Full Text



Rent, Housing, Beverage Taxes on Alameda County Ballot

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday October 24, 2016 - 03:51:00 PM

Rent stabilization, renter protection, housing and beverage taxes are some of the biggest issues being considered by voters around Alameda County on Nov. 8. 

One of the most contested issues in Berkeley is business taxes, with two competing measures on the ballot. 

Measure U1, which was placed on the ballot by the City Council, would raise the business tax license fee on revenue for landlords with more than five rental units from 1.081 percent to 2.8 percent. 

Measure DD, which was placed on the ballot by the Berkeley Property Owners, would raise the business tax on all rentals by a smaller amount, from 1.081 percent to 1.5 percent. 

Measure U1 would exempt large new apartment complexes for the first 12 years of occupancy and affordable housing units run by nonprofits, but Measure DD would treat all landlords equally. 

Measure U1 supporters say it would raise up to $3.45 million a year for the city and Measure DD backers said their measure would raise $1.4 million annually. 

If both measures pass, the measure with the most votes will take effect. 

There also are two competing minimum wage measures on the Berkeley ballot, but in a strange twist the Berkeley City Council and labor leaders are urging citizens to vote against both of them. 

That's because the council, which previously hadn't been able to reach a consensus on the issue, voted unanimously at a special meeting in late August to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour by Oct. 1, 2018. But by that time it was too late to take the two measures off of the ballot. 

Measure BB, which was put on the ballot by the council's majority earlier this year, would have raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2019, a slightly less aggressive timeline. 

Measure CC, which was supported by labor groups, was more aggressive and would have called for reaching $15 an hour in 2017. 

If both measures pass, the one with the most votes wins. 

Measure Y1 in Berkeley would allow youths ages 16 and 17 to vote in school board elections. 

Supporters say that by lowering the voting age, the city will increase voter turnout and give young adults the ability to influence the direction of their local schools. 

They say only two other cities in the U.S. allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote "and the results are very encouraging." 

No argument was submitted against the measure. 

Measure T1 in Berkeley is a $100 million infrastructure bond to repair, renovate, replace and reconstruct the city's aging infrastructure and facilities, including sidewalks, storm drains, parks, streets and senior centers. 

The city says the average annual cost over the 40-year period the bonds are outstanding would be $90 for homes assessed at $425,000 and $128 for homes assessed at $600,000. 

No argument was submitted against the measure. 


Oakland's Measure JJ would expand eviction protections under the city's existing Just Cause for Eviction ordinance so that the rules would apply to virtually all apartments. 

Currently, apartment units built after 1983 don't fall under the city's eviction protections so landlords can evict tenants for almost any reason in those building when their leases expire, according to Measure JJ supporters, including City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. 

Community leaders say the displacement crisis is forcing out long-time residents and destroying the city's unique communities. 

Opponents, including Jill Broadhurst, the executive director of the East Bay Rental Housing Association, say Measure JJ would negatively impact both property owners and renters because it would make it more difficult to remove drug dealers and individuals causing a nuisance in neighborhoods. 

They also allege that Oakland's "just cause" eviction ordinance already "has come at extreme cost to renters overall" because the scarcity of housing it has created has driven rents in Oakland well above the national average "and made it extremely difficult for lower-income residents to compete for scarce housing." 

The city of Alameda's Measure L1 would affirm the rent stabilization ordinance approved by the City Council in March that requires mediation for rent increases above 5 percent, prohibits mass evictions of entire buildings and requires landlords to pay relocation fees when terminating certain tenancies. 

Supporters say Alameda is facing an affordability crisis and must take action to protect affordable housing options for families, seniors and children. 

A competing measure, Measure M1, which was placed on the ballot by the Alameda County Labor Council, teachers and firefighters, would limit annual rent increases to 65 percent of the consumer price index, prohibit "no cause" evictions and require landlords to pay evicting relocation fees ranging from $7,300 to $18,300 when ending certain tenancies. 

It also would create a rent board. 

Measure M1 opponents, including several City Council members and Kathleen Schumacher of the Alameda Citizens Task Force, alleged that "it was pushed on the ballot by out-of-town interests and creates an unproven, massive new bureaucracy that will cost residents $3.7 million per year and may not solve the affordability problem. 

The opponents say M1 is inflexible and not easily amendable and they don't think strict rent control will work, pointing to steep rent increases in San Francisco since a rent control ordinance was implemented in 1979. 

Broadhurst from the East Bay Rental Housing Association opposes both Alameda rental measures. She said L1 "will lead to owners selling their buildings because of the layers of red tape and higher city-created fees." 

If L1 and M1 both pass, the measure that gets the most votes wins. 

Countywide Measure A1, which was placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote of the county Board of Supervisors, would raise up to $580 million in general obligation bonds to provide affordable housing and prevent displacement of vulnerable populations such as low-income households, veterans and seniors. 

The money, which would last for 23 years, would pay for acquiring or improving properties, up to 8,500 units of affordable rental housing, supportive housing for homeless people and helping low- and middle-income households buy homes. 

For the owner of a home with an assessed value of $430,000, the tax would average about $50 a year with a top rate of $60 in 2023. 

Proponents say the measure is needed because there's a housing crisis in Alameda County in which many working families spend more than half their income on housing and housing has become expensive and hard to find. 

No argument against the measure was submitted. 

Another housing-related measure is Oakland's Measure KK, which is a bond measure that would raise $600 million to repair streets and sidewalks and repair and improved city-owned facilities such as libraries, parks, recreational facilities and police buildings would account for $150 million of the bond proceeds. 

It would also include $100 million for affordable housing to prevent displacing current residents who can't afford the city's rising housing costs. 

The bond measure would add about $60 to the annual property tax bill of a home assessed at $250,000, which is the median in Oakland. 

Supporters, including Mayor Libby Schaaf and several City Council members, say the measure "takes a major step toward keeping Oakland, Oakland" because it will allow the city to protect residents from being forced to move out of affordable housing and keep long-term residents in the city. 

Opponents, including Broadhurst, say, "How can the proponents say that this measure will protect Oaklanders when they add costs to all residents? All residents matter and all will feel this enormous tax increase." 

Measure O1 in Albany and Measure HH in Oakland would both impose a one-cent-per-ounce general tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. 

"Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that consumption of sugary drinks causes widespread health problems starting in childhood," supporters of both measures say in identical ballot arguments. 

Among the illnesses linked to sugary drink consumption are diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, heart disease and strokes, according to the measures' supporters. 

Measure O1 opponents, including Sanjeev Dhungel, the owner of Everest Kitchen restaurant on Solano Avenue, say "The key problem with Measure O1 is that it is not a tax on sodas but a tax placed on local grocers and restaurant owners" and nothing in the measure prevents all of the tax from being passed onto consumers across any food or grocery item. 

Opponents of Measure HH, including Bishop Robert Jackson, the senior pastor of Acts Full Baptist Church, say, "Oakland has so many pressing problems and higher priorities that the last thing we need is a tax on groceries." 

Oakland's Measure LL would establish a police commission to oversee the city's Police Department. 

Supporters, including City Council members Noel Gallo and Dan Kalb, say, "Serious police misconduct impedes effective policing. We need improved oversight and effective discipline in order to better focus our police force on the things we want our officers doing: community policing in our neighborhoods, responding to 911 calls and investigating serious crimes." No argument against the measure was submitted. 

Oakland's Measure G1 would raise $12.4 million annually to give teachers a salary increase to try to retain them in Oakland. It also would pay for enhanced middle school art, music and language programs. 

Supporters, including school board vice president Nina Senn, say Oakland's teachers are among the lowest paid in the Bay Area, the school district is experiencing the worst teacher shortage in the state and it's important to recruit and retain quality teachers and provide middle school enrichment.

Berkeley Mayoral Candidates on the Line November 2

Thursday October 27, 2016 - 01:44:00 PM

The Berkeley Neighborhoods Council will host a mayoral candidates’ forum titled “Balancing Preservation and Growth: Development and Our Neighborhoods.” The forum will be moderated by Alex Savidge of KTVU Channel 2 and will take place on at 7:30 on November 2, 2016 at the Hillside Club. 

The three mayoral candidates are Jesse Arreguin, Laurie Capitelli, and Kriss Worthington. 

Come with your questions.

Campaign 2016 (Public Comment)

Arthur Blaustein
Monday October 24, 2016 - 03:26:00 PM

As if the country doesn't have enough problems a new malady has hit the American public--ESD, "election stress disorder" has affected more than half the voters in the nation. According to a new report by the American Psychological Association the symptoms are headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, light headedness and spiking of blood pressure. Small wonder given the sordidness and tawdriness of the past political year. It began with the Republican primary debates, not unlike 8th grade food fights in the school cafeteria and transitioned into "boy talk" in the locker room. And as we head into the final weeks Trump has said the election is rigged and called for vigilantes to monitor voting "in neighborhoods you know where." History will say that this election cycle, like none in our history, demeaned public discourse, denigrated the public good and diminished the democratic process.

As we head down the home stretch I think I can sum up the over-arching stakes in a nutshell. Hillary Clinton is an imperfect person in an imperfect world. She will not lead us into an ascent to heaven but she can prevent Donald Trump from leading us into a descent into hell. And it would serve the nation well for the following groups-- millennials, white male working-class , moderate Republicans, the undecided, and those planning to stay at home on election day-- to reflect upon their choices.  


White working-class voters are supporting Trump because they say they want change. But change can be for the worse as well as for the better. Do they really want to go back to the pre-Obama policies of George W. Bush when the country was on the edge of financial bankruptcy and steeped in two losing wars in the Middle East? Yes, worker wages have been depressed and communities hollowed out but that was because of 25 years of trickle-down Republican economic policies. And the economic and tax policies of Trump are worse than those of Bush--more breaks for the wealthy and nothing for the workers who Trump stiffed. 

Obama took the initiative and tried everything within his power to change that-- to right the wrongs. And what did the Republicans in Congress do? They opposed every one of Obama's proposals that would provide economic opportunity and strengthen the social justice safety net: the economic recovery stimulus package, health care reform, climate change reform, consumer protection reform, extension of emergency unemployment benefits, raising the minimum wage, expanding community development block grants, , immigration reform and affordable housing, among other legislative initiatives. Moreover, they did not even bother to offer any reasonable or constructive alternatives to help the working-class or the middle-class, whatsoever. These are the very same Republicans who ran the country into a ditch and didn’t want to pay for the tow-truck. The truth of the matter is that if folks want real change they'd vote out the Republicans in a do-nothing Congress and replace them with Democratic Senate and House members who want to make the necessary and crucial changes. 

Now let’s examine the “boy talk" on "The Tape" because it sheds some light on the issue of the candidates character and integrity. Trump says it was simply locker room banter. So, in seven months we have moved from 8th grade cafeteria food fights to guys’ locker room bragging. I guess that it’s progress of a sort but hardly the qualities one wants of the leader of the free world. I don't believe him for a minute. Like so much else that he's said in the campaign; facts and truth are irrelevant; he makes things up as he goes along, for convenience. He learned this strategy at an early age from his friend and lawyer, Roy Cohn, (possibly the second most despicable American of the 20th century); who worked as the hatchet man for Senator Joseph McCarthy (arguably the first most despicable). Cohn taught Trump to never admit being wrong and if you're accused you swing back--the best defense is to go on the attack with counter punches 

. Some of his lies-- “After 9/11 Muslims were dancing in the street in New Jersey." "The judge from Indiana in the Trump University case is biased because he's of Mexican-American heritage. The whole "birther movement" over the past several years. Anyone over the age of 12 should have known that this was designed to undermine the legitimacy of President Obama because of his color. It was a pure and simple racist ploy to give Trump some media traction and Fox News something to play games with--over and over-- on the theory that if you keep repeating lies people will eventually begin to believe them. Now Trump says that the election is "rigged" ; the media is out to get him; and he may not accept the results. Blame, blame, blame... To ensure his getting more media attention he now wants to delegitimize the next president. 

The Tape exposed, in a graphic way, the crass, crude, misogynist and vulgar side of Trump the sexual predator. So, what was his response. He huddles together with his two closest surrogates and advisers, Rudy Giuilani and Newt Gingrich, and they come up with a strategy. This Trump Triumvirate--with nine wives between them-- have had lots of experience in dealing with marital infidelity so their plan was to attack Bill Clinton for his affairs and cast Hillary as "the enabler." And assault the integrity of the nine women who came forth and confirmed his sexual aggressiveness. Not an ounce of contrition on the part of Donald . What puzzles me is the response of evangelical leaders who are among his strongest supporters. There is substantial amount of biblical teaching that is concerned with ethical and moral behavior, serving the community, helping the poor and fidelity to family values; and nothing about using a private email server. Yet there doesn’t seem to be many leaders taking leave of their support of him. It was President Franklin Roosevelt who reminded us that, “the sins of the warm-hearted are weighed on different scales than those of the cold-blooded.” Clinton’s transgressions contrasted to those of Trump are akin to failing to pay a fine on an overdue book at her local library. 

Finally, for the past year I have listened carefully to Trump, I’ve watched all the debates, I’ve heard his surrogates and three campaign managers. All of it has reminded me of a passage in “The Heart of Darkness”. Joseph Conrad puts it this way: 

Their talk was the talk of sordid buccaneers; it was reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage; there was not an atom of foresight…. In the whole batch of them , and they did not seem aware these things are wanted for the work of the world. 

These words fit the Trump campaign; they contain the mood and moral nullity of his self-serving enterprise that seeks to tear apart the public good. It is almost as though the thought never occurred to the campaign team that it is impossible for a country to sustain itself, much less mature, on a fare of angry one-liners, re-run ideas, hot-house theories, paranoia and the rantings of a carnival barker. 

Professor Arthur Blaustein taught Community Development, Politics and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He served a Chair of the National Advisory Council under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and served on the Board of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Bill Clinton. His most recent books are “Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport….” and “The American Promise—Justice and Opportunity.” 

New: THE PUBLIC EYE: Why Trump Lost the Debates (Column)

Bob Burnett
Monday October 24, 2016 - 03:17:00 PM

The 2016 election has been defined by Hillary Clinton's performance in the three presidential debates. Snap polls indicated she defeated Donald Trump in each encounter. And since the first debate, Clinton's lead over Trump has expanded both in terms of estimates of the popular vote and share of the Electoral College. Clinton's decisive victory was due to her talent and preparation. Trump lost because of obvious defects. 

Trump can't maintain focus for 90 minutes. Particularly in the first and third debate, Trump began normally and then decompensated. Trump lost his composure, grew angry, interrupted Clinton, and blurted insults -- "such a nasty woman." As time passed, his remarks began to ramble and he often lost his line of reasoning. (In the third debate, Trump's response to his first question -- on the Supreme Court -- was to the point; after 90 minutes, his response to his last question --entitlements -- was incoherent.) 

Some say that Trump -- who has made Clinton's health a campaign issue -- has his own health issue: stamina. Trump brags that he only sleeps three or four hours each night. Perhaps his stamina problem is due to sleep deprivation. Writing in the New York Times Timothy Egan argued that lack of sleep explains Trump's behavior, in general: "Sleep deprivation, we know, can make you cranky and temperamental, and throw off judgment. The severely sleep-deprived are more impulsive, less adaptable and prone to snappish decisions, and they have trouble listening to others." 

My favorite psychologist argues that Trump's debate performance is actually a consequence of his narcissistic personality disorder. The psychologist observed that during each debate, Clinton was able to get under Trump's skin, to attack his fragile self-esteem with a series of barbs. 

At the 24 minute mark of the third debate, Clinton clearly unhinged Trump with a remark about immigration: "[Donald] went to Mexico, he had a meeting with the Mexican president. Didn't even raise [the idea of a border wall]. He choked..." At that point, Trump decompensated: he became visibly angry and started to insult and interrupt Clinton. As a consequence, Trump's responses to questions became increasingly incoherent: At the one hour mark, Trump was asked what he would do as President after Mosul falls: "Will you put U.S. troops into that vacuum to make sure that ISIS doesn't come back?" Trump never answered the question. First he argued that the Mosul invasion had been timed to help Clinton and then that it would help Iran. 

Trump did not adequately prepare for the debates. After the third debate, speaking at the Al Smith dinner, Clinton joked: "Donald wanted me drug tested before last night’s debate. And look, I’ve got to tell you, I am so flattered that Donald thought I used some sort of performance enhancer. Now, actually, I did. It’s called preparation." 

In September, before the first debate, The New York Times reported that Trump's preparation was unorthodox: "[Trump] prefers not to do a full-length mock debate, and has no set person playing Mrs. Clinton. He is not using a lectern for mock debate drills... Some Trump advisers are concerned that he underestimates the difficulty of standing still, talking pointedly and listening sharply for 90 minutes. In the primary debates he often receded into the background, and only jumped into the debate forcefully when he was attacked. Some advisers worry that if Mrs. Clinton surprises him, he will be caught flat-footed." Trump's advisers warned him what might happen during the debates but he did not listen to them. 

At the 26 minute mark of the third debate, Clinton observed: "[Donald] used undocumented labor to build the Trump Tower. He underpaid undocumented workers, and when they complained, he basically said what a lot of employers do: 'You complain, I'll get you deported.'" By this time Trump had decompensated and (amazingly) had no response. 

At the 27 minute mark, Clinton asked: "Will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are [hacking] and make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in in this election, that he rejects Russian espionage against Americans, which he actually encouraged in the past?" Trump equivocated, mumbling Putin "has no respect" for Hillary. She replied, "That's because he'd rather have a puppet as president of the United States." Trump childishly responded, "You're the puppet!" 

Media consultant, Joeel Silberman observed: "The first 30 minutes of the debate suggested that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had actually accepted coaching and was trying to practice self control. Yet, from the beginning, I was struck by his nervous tics, his inability to stand still, his grabbing the microphone, his tight slit eyes, and his turned down mouth... by minute 30, he appeared physically unlikable... Mr Trump’s body and face language was both defensive and bullying." 

In the debates, Clinton needled Trump and he decompensated. There was nothing that Clinton said that Trump could not have anticipated -- tax returns, problems with women, friendship with Putin, etc. If Trump had taken the time to adequately prepare -- Clinton typically took four full days -- then he could have controlled his narcissism and prevented his decompensation. 

Trump chose to not fully prepare for the debates. That's no surprise. One of the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder is "exaggerating your achievements and talents." Trump often brags about how smart he is. 

Before each debate, Donald Trump believed he needed only minimal preparation because he was inherently more talented that Hillary Clinton. The debate results proved otherwise. Trump lost because of his defects. 

Pablo Heras-Casado Conducts San Francisco Symphony (Review)

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday October 24, 2016 - 03:25:00 PM

Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado returned to the San Francisco Symphony in four concerts, October 19-22, in works by Mozart, Schumann and Dvorák. Along with Gustavo Dudamel and Susanna Mälkki, Pablo Hereras-Casado is one of the young conductors most in demand internationally. Currently, he leads the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York. A charismatic figure, Heras-Casado conducts with energetic flair, eschewing a baton and leading with vigorous arms, expressive hands, and athletic body.  

Opening the program was Mozart’s 29th Symphony in A Major, K. 201. This work, composed by the 18 year-old Mozart, is generally considered the finest of his Salzburg symphonies. I have loved it ever since listening in 1966 to a recording led by Sir John Barbirolli, who tore through it at whirlwind pace. Heras-Casado didn’t quite equal Barbirolli’s speed-demon fervor, but he led a brisk rendition, highlighting Mozart’s newfound mastery of loud/soft dynamics throughout. In the Andante, Mozart made expressive use of the oboe. The humorous Menuetto then led into the frenetic finale, full of color and verve as the orchestra responded to Heras-Casado’s conducting.  

Next came Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A minor of 1850 with Alisa Weilerstein as soloist. Abounding in sumptuous melodies, this work’s three movements are played without a pause. Weilerstein, as usual, offered a vigorous performance, her tone burnished in the low range though occasionally brittle up top. Weilerstein’s cello fairly sang the achingly beautiful melodies Schumann wrote for this instrument, and Heras-Casado’s conducting brought out the vivid interplay between cello and orchestra. Near the work’s end, Weilerstein played a brief accompanied cadenza composed by Schumann.  

After intermission the orchestra performed Dvorák’s 7th Symphony in D minor. This is a work of tragic grandeur, brooding and dark, yet also heroic. The opening is dramatic, with horns, timpani and basses sounding a somber tone, followed by violas and cellos deepening the drama. Midway through the first movement is a luscious warbling of woodwinds. In the Adagio, the oboe features prominently, announcing a lovely melody that is quickly picked up by strings and horns. The Scherzo abounds in rhythmic complexity, and the trio offers a moment of relaxation before this movement ends with a bang. The finale was fiery, with liberal use of brass, woodwinds, and timpani, as Heras-Casado energetically led the orchestra in bringing this Dvorák 7th Symphony to a rousing finish.

Central Park Five (Public Comment)

Tejinder Uberoi
Monday October 24, 2016 - 03:41:00 PM

In 1989 five teenagers were found guilty of raping a white woman in Central Park. Buckling under intense prosecutorial pressure. the five pleaded guilty. 

The “confessions” were riddled with inconsistencies which should have raised multiple red flags. For example, the DNA taken from the accused did not match the DNA taken from the victim, a glaring omission which sealed the fate of the unfortunate victims. 

14 years later their sentences were vacated based on new DNA evidence following an actual confession by a serial rapist, Matias Reyes. 

In spite of being wrongly convicted there has been a persistent drumbeat of their guilt because they lost the lottery of life and were born with darker skins. To compound the grave injustice, the ‘racist in chief’, Donald Trump still insists on their guilt blatantly ignorant of the country’s epidemic of wrongful convictions, which disproportionately affects minorities, and the prevalence of false confessions in such convictions. Not surprisingly, the New York Police Department and the District Attorney Office concurs with Trump’s racist views. Spewing her racial hatred, Anne Coulter argued “liberals are opposed to rape in the abstract, but when it comes to actual rapists, they’re all for them.” At the time of their arraignment, the teenagers were just 14, 15, and 16 years old with no prior convictions and no guardian or lawyer present. They were denied food, drink and sleep for many hours intensifying their misery. The case is symptomatic of a deeply flawed criminal justice system. 

New: Elizabeth Baker’s Stunning Debut Recital (Review)

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday October 24, 2016 - 03:33:00 PM

On Sunday afternoon, October 23, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Baker appeared in her debut recital in Berkeley’s gorgeous First Church of Christ, Scientist, built in 1910 by Bernard Maybeck. This recital was under the aegis of The Handel Opera Project, whose founder, William G. Ludtke, conducted a small chamber ensemble that included three members of the Jupiter Quartet. In the magnificent setting of Maybeck’s church, a National Historic Landmark, Elizabeth Baker sang arias by Mozart, Vivaldi, Handel, and Rossini.  

Opening the program was Mozart’s “Voi che sapete” from Le Nozze di Figaro. In this famous aria, young Cherubino lyrically describes the confusion he feels in experiencing the first stirrings of love. Ms. Baker, whose voice bears a rich, dark timbre, was eloquent in the low register, though a case of nerves made her excursions to the top of her range come off a bit awkwardly in this opening aria. She quickly settled in, however, and in the next piece, Antonio Vivaldi’s “Sposa son disprezzata” from his opera Bajazet, Elizabeth Baker handled this very poignant aria flawlessly. Following this selection was “Stille amare” from George F. Handel’s opera Tolomeo. This aria sits largely in the low register, and Ms. Baker’s tessitura seems most comfortable in this low range of chest tones. Perhaps she would have been advised to use this aria as her opener, so she could immediately settle into a comfort zone. 

Next came what was for me the highlight of the program, “Doppo notte” from Handel’s Ariodante. In this dramatic aria Elizabeth Baker seamlessly handled all the transitions from chest tones to head tones, and her clarion high notes were beautifully set off against her lusciously dark low notes. Ms. Baker then delivered a second aria from Ariodante, the bitter “Scherza infida” in which a prince bewails the faithless treachery of his beloved. Ms. Baker fairly tore into this piece, expressing vocally and with gestures the bitter anguish of her trousers-role character. Her expressive genius showed in full force in the next piece as well, “Piangero” from Handel’s Giulio Cesare. This aria’s opening and closing refrains were sung softly and poignantly, while the middle section offered an angry outburst of fury from Cleopatra.  

Elizabeth Baker took a comic turn for her next piece, the famous “Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. With coy gestures and gorgeous vocalism, Ms. Baker scored a hit with this great aria in which Rosina vows to outwit her amorously inclined and aging guardian so she can instead marry her true love, Lindoro. For the final selection of this recital, Ms. Baker chose an aria made famous by the castrato Farinelli, “Agitata da due vent,” from Vivaldi’s opera La Griselda. Here, Ms. Baker included some stunning ornamental improvisations of her own composition, thus mirroring a procedure favored by Farinelli himself. 

Interspersed among the arias were instrumental movements from each of Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Violinists Victor Romasevich and Michael Jones were outstanding in these works, as was cellist Leighton Fong. As an encore, Elizabeth Baker sang a lovely work by William G. Ludtke, simply entitled “Love.” It was a stunning recital in a magnificent architectural setting; and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more beautiful singing from Elizabeth Baker.

New: A question of ethics for Councilmember Maio (Public Comment)

Sigrid Allen
Saturday October 22, 2016 - 02:37:00 PM

I received below email from our city council member, district 1, Linda Maio, and I am in disbelief. She solicited constituents to ask her how to vote..... this is unethical if not illegal. I hope your paper will report on this information. She reminds me of Tom Bates' behavior when he first ran for mayor. I am disgusted..... or is it Donald Trump that paved the way to everything goes? 

Regardless, this is wrong! 

Sigrid Allen 

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Re: Preparing Your Ballot -- Deep Breath
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:47:34 +0000
From: Maio, Linda
To: Maio, Linda

Please note the correct email is “linda@lindamaio.org"

On Oct 21, 2016, Linda Maio <lmaio@cityofberkeley.info> wrote:

Dear Resident,
As you are preparing to mark your ballot, a very long one indeed — longer than we have had in my memory — you might want to consult my evaluations and opinions, and those of experienced thought leaders whom I trust.
If you would like this information, please send me a note at linda@lindamio.org.
Have a cup of tea or glass of wine nearby, get together with some friends, and engage in your right to vote.
Note, you will need to ask me for this information at the above email address.
I cannot send it directly as City officials and staff are not permitted to use constituent email addresses for ballot purposes.
Happy voting!
Council member Linda Maio
Vice Mayor of the City of Berkeley
Berkeley.info/lindamaio | 510.981.7110

Russian suspect in Bay Area hacking indicted

Dennis Culver (IBCN)
Saturday October 22, 2016 - 11:30:00 AM

A federal grand jury in Oakland on Thursday indicted a Russian man on several computer crimes, United States Attorney Brian Stretch announced Friday. 

Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Nikulin, 29, was indicted on charges including obtaining information from computers, causing damage to computers, trafficking in access devices, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy, prosecutors said. 

The indictment alleges Nikulin, from Moscow, Russia, accessed computers belonging to bay area-based companies LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring without authorization, and obtained information from the computers, and caused damage to a computer, prosecutors said. 

He is also accused of having engaged in a conspiracy to traffic stolen user credentials, prosecutors said. 

Authorities arrested Nikulin on Oct. 5 in the Czech Republic and he remains in custody in Prague, according to prosecutors.

An Open Letter to BART: What's the Run-down on Evacuations?

Gar Smith
Friday October 21, 2016 - 01:05:00 PM

Dear Bay Area Rapid Transit System:

For more than 40 years, I've been riding BART and, like the other 430,000 passengers who use the 107-mile system on an average day, I occasionally find myself staring idly at the maps and safety placards posted in each BART car.

And for years, I have been puzzled by the illustrations accompanying the Evacuation Procedures poster. The instructions seem to invite "suicide by BART."

In the event of a train breakdown in the Transbay Tube, along the subway sections, or on the elevated structures, these omnipresent placards instruct passengers to: "Cross over to adjacent track and wait for rescue train."

Am I the only one who thinks this borders on lunacy?

Follow these instructions and you will wind up—like the rousted cartoon passengers in the posters' graphics—stuck in the middle of a train track or positioned directly alongside the rails. In either case, you will be left standing directly in the path of an oncoming "rescue" train.

When it comes to keeping passengers safe and secure at boarding stops inside its stations, BART's printed Safety Guide is quite clear:

"At stations, do not cross the tracks [or] walk on the trackways…."

This advice is considered so critical that it is the only portion of the Safety Guide printed in bold type. But when it comes to train evacuations between stations, different rules seem to apply.




Look familiar? Take a closer look. 

Why is it that passengers are instructed leave a disabled train by jumping from the safety of platforms and walkways to stand on the rails to await rescue? 

Why is standing on the tracks deemed a better option than having riders wait for rescue off the tracks? 

Wouldn't it be safer for passengers to simply chill on the walkways or linger inside the cross-passage spaces until a rescue train arrives? 

BART's advice for passengers stuck on its elevated tracks shows a single passenger standing to the side of the adjacent rails to await the "rescue train." Check out the size of the train parked on the adjacent track: It is clear that any passenger standing in the pictured position would be knocked for a loop by an oncoming train. 


Evacuating BART on aerial structures 

Presumably, whenever a train goes out of service, all BART traffic on the affected line is immediately halted—thereby assuring that no trains will run over any stranded passengers huddled between the rails and poking their smartphones in hopes of picking up a Wi-Fi signal. 

Was this "wait-on-the-tracks" option chosen because a full train might contain more passengers than could fit on the walkways or inside the connecting passageway? (Even if this were the case, why would everyone be instructed to assemble on the tracks?) 


Evacuating inside the Transbay Tube 

In the Evacuation Procedure poster, walkways are shown to be shoulder-high to the cartoon passengers standing on the trackway. Clearly, jumping down onto the tracks could pose a problem for the elderly, the handicapped, and children. Similarly, climbing back up onto the walkways would pose a problem for all but the most athletic commuters. 

BART's evacuation poster shows stairs inside the Transbay Tube connecting the train doors with the cross-passage doors. It is not clear whether these stairs give passengers access to the "adjacent tracks." If not, a jump would be required. 

Once evacuation is complete and a "Rescue Train" arrives (hopefully stopping well short of any stranded rescuees), passengers cooling their heels on the crossties would then need to clamber back onto the elevated walkways in order to enter the Rescue Train. Are ladders, steps, or stairs from the rail-bed to the walkways available throughout the BART system? The evacuation poster neither shows nor mentions any. 

Related question: Are Rescue Trains configured with steps and a front-facing door for use by passengers trapped between the rails and waiting to board from the trackway? 

Some Suggestions 

Proposal One: In order to clarify these questions, BART could produce an "evacuation drill" video and post it online. Airlines do it. Like the airlines, BART could even add some humor to the project. (BART's current online safety video warns about the dangers of escalators but says nothing about emergency evacuations.) 

Suggestion Two: Unless the disabled train is, say, engulfed in flames, wouldn't it make sense to simply let the passengers remain on the disabled train until a Rescue Train arrives? Under this option, passengers could relax and cross-commiserate—comfortably and safely—ensconced in their seats. 

A bonus: In the event of a breakdown on a stretch of outdoor track, riders would not be forced to hunker in the rain on a cold night, shivering and quietly blaspheming while awaiting rescue. 

Proposal Three: If a breakdown occurs near a BART station, allow passengers the option of safely "rescuing themselves." "Self-evacuation" has proven effective on at least two occasions. On March 9, 2015, passengers safely bolted from a train when smoke began to fill cars stopped between the Montgomery and Embarcadero stations. 

More dramatically, in June 2006, passengers en route to SFO revolted after a train hit some debris on the tracks and came to a halt between the Balboa Park and Daly City stations. After waiting 93 minutes, desperate passengers pried open doors, dropped four feet to the trackway, and began walking to the Daly City station, which was only 100 yards away. They were met by BART police who threatened to arrest them all but, after the BART train operator intervened, the travelers were allowed to walk to the station and flag down taxis for a $30 ride to SFO. 

BART has characterized "self-evacuations" as "dangerous," owing to the presence of a 1,000-volt "third rail." But this danger is well advertised and it exists regardless of whether or not an evacuation is officially recommended or spontaneous. 

BART's Online Safety Guide Is Also Off the Rails 

The online version of BART's evacuation guide appears to avoid the wait-on-the-tracks problem. To wit: 

"Go along the walkway and down the ramp to the nearest door, go through the passageway to the opposite trackway, proceed along the walkway [i.e., not the trackway] until people behind you have cleared the doorway. Wait for the rescue train." [Emphasis added.] 

At the same time, however, the online evacuation guide continues to lead evacuees astray, as follows: 

Instructions for abandoning a train in the Berkeley Hills Tunnel: 

"Go along the walkway or trackway to the nearest door, cross through the passageway to the opposite tunnel and walk along the tracks until the people behind you have cleared the doorway." 

Instructions for seeking safety in a Subway: 

"Cross through the passageway to the opposite tunnel and walk along the trackway until people behind you have cleared the doorway." 

Instructions for evacuating Elevated Tracks: 

"Walk on the tracks or walkway far enough past the train so that people behind you can also get a safe distance from the train." (Say what?) 

It turns out that BART actually does have an Emergency Evacuation guide that clearly instructs passengers to avoid the trackway and wait on the walkway for rescue. The only problem is, this poster does not appear to be on display anywhere in the BART system. 

Note: A letter expressing these concerns was originally sent to BART Customer Relations on April 27, 2010. To date, there has been no response.



What will become of the Republican party after Trump goes down?

Becky O'Malley
Friday October 21, 2016 - 01:03:00 PM

A French friend just posted on Facebook what she calls “’Question existentielle du soir :” That has a nice ring to it: existential question of the evening—how very French of her!

(The existential question she mockingly posed asked: What’s the point of buying a coupon book for 8 euros which saves you 4 euros?—proving that irrationality is global, but we knew that.)

The existential question of the evening around here seems to be what will succeed the Grand Old Party, as it used to be called, now that it’s been demolished by the loose cannon called Donald Trump. All the chatter in the chattering classes about how the Trump ascendancy might play down ticket on November 8 misses the point.

What exactly is the Republican Party any more? It’s not just that it’s been taken over by—I was about to say aliens, but that word has been corrupted in the discourse by immigration issues. Let’s just say that the scenario is strongly reminiscent of the “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers” book and movies.  


The story obviously has a strong grip on the popular imagination, since there have been at least two remakes of the original 1978 film. Per Wikipedia: 

“The plot involves a San Francisco health inspector and his colleague who discover that humans are being replaced by alien duplicates; each is a perfect copy of the person replaced, only devoid of human emotion.” 

Can’t avoid calling Trump an alien after all I suppose. The point about “devoid of human emotion” rings true, doesn’t it? 

I have a psychiatrist friend who is tired of being asked at the contemporary equivalent of cocktail parties if Trump’s crazy or what. Now he just pulls up his Iphone and flashes a number from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Personality Disorders, the section which describes Narcissistic Personality Disorders. A short version, again per Wikipedia: “Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others' feelings.[4][5] “ 

Even though in my long life I never once considered being a Republican, I’ve known several of them, including my father, and none of them were crazy. We’ve disagreed on many things, consistently on how much poor people are to be blamed for their situation and what the government should do to help them, but Donald Trump is way outside the traditional Republican lines. 

Trump is not really a Republican, he’s an alien who has taken over the Republican presidential slot, and what’s left of the party is crumbling as we watch. He mouths the traditional Republican talking points, but issues are not what he’s about. He’s what he’s about, period. 

Those who have represented themselves as the contemporary Republican Party have lost their grip on whatever it was their party was supposed to stand for. Bush the elder has acknowledged this by making it known that he’s voting Democratic this time, and if I were a betting women I’d bet that even Bush Junior and his brother Jeb are toying with the same idea. I guarantee that Barbara Bush will be voting for Hillary, as well as her daughters-in-law, both Mrs. W and Mrs. Jeb. 

Who is to blame for letting the party be taken over like this? Blame has to go to the functionaries both lowly and topside who were more interested in protecting their positions than in ensuring outcomes. Their candidate for vice president is still engaged in the minuet, trying without success to dance around the outrageous statement by his main man that he won’t follow the grand old tradition of abiding by election results unless he feels like it on November 9. 

By the way, Trump’s parallel claim that he’s been endorsed by, what, 200 generals is a little scary. If he rejects the voters’ decision, will the generals be available to help him “set the record straight”? This is not Egypt—or is it? 

The traditional Republican positions have been comprehensible, even if you don’t agree with them. Believing that you’d rather hang on to your money than pay taxes, fear of foreigners, distaste for sexually or gender-different people, anxiety about crime…all that stuff is based on emotions which most humans experience from time to time, even though some of us reach different conclusions about the role of government in dealing with them than the average Republican.  

But the reason the Republican Party is rapidly going down the drain is its structural inability to reject this wacko who has invaded their ranks in any meaningful way. Here I can’t help thinking of the way the Sandernistas inveighed against the superdelegates in the Democratic Party. Republicans don’t have superdelegates, but they would probably be better off if they did. 

Just imagine what would have happened if Trump, that amoral loose cannon, had decided to take over the Democrats instead of the Republicans. Since he seems to have no genuine principles, it could have happened—and if it did the Supers could have stopped him, one would hope. 

This seems farfetched, but I have a friend who covered Trump for a couple of years for the New York Times. He says that The Donald is characterized by his amazing ability to reflect whatever whoever he’s talking to wants to hear. Having no principles makes that pretty easy to do. He might well have claimed to be a Democrat, and gotten away with it in the primaries. 

I don’t think having a one-party system is a good idea. A touch of isolationism, for example, is often a valuable contribution to the excessive interventionism that Democrats have historically been prey to. Some of the government projects that some Democrats enthusiastically promote are bad ideas, e.g. Jerry Brown’s water tunnels, maybe even his high-speed train in its current incarnation. Naysayers are sometimes needed, and if the Republicans are gone, where will we get them? 

The Republican party has a long and generally respectable history. Going back a bit, Earl Warren, the architect of the modern Supreme Court, called himself a Republican. Back even further, my husband’s grandfather, born in 1869, voted Republican all his life into his nineties because he came from a Quaker abolitionist background and belonged to the party which had opposed slavery. 

Unfortunately, it’s too late for the remaining sane Republicans, if there are any left, to mount a Dump Trump movement before this election. Some sort of lower-case reconstruction is going to be necessary after the election, but it’s not clear what form it might take. David Brooks, Debra Sanders, Susan Collins, even Mitt Romney or John Cain: do you have any new ideas for your party at this critical juncture in America history?  

Brooks in today’s New York Times seems to be working on it. Let’s hope someone’s paying attention. 



Public Comment


Tejinder Uberoi
Friday October 21, 2016 - 01:31:00 PM

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, James Risen, and his team at The New York Times conducted an in-depth investigation into the abuse of prisoners by the CIA. Risen and military psychiatrist, Dr. Stephen Xenakis, concluded that the CIA torture methods caused devastating long-term psychological harm. 

At least half of the 39 detainees interviewed experienced serious psychiatric problems including post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoia, depression and psychosis. The torture methods used mimic those used by autocratic regimes that we claim to despise such as severe sleep deprivation, waterboarding, mock executions, sexual violations, dog attacks, confinement in coffin-like boxes, severe beatings and dousing with ice-cold water. These grotesque, sadistic methods were approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department of the Bush administration. The prisoners were captured in a broad sweep at the outset of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Former prisoners complained of excruciating pain. Many had lost the will to live and were prone to suicidal thoughts.  

These gross violations of international law and the Geneva Conventions will continue until there is proper oversight of the CIA. Its brutal activities have intensified rage and fueled anti-American hostility around the world. It has engaged in overthrowing governments around the world with complete impunity (Iran (1953); Guatemala(1954); Laos (1958); Ecuador (1961); Argentina (1963); Honduras (1963 & 2009); Panama (1968); Chile (1973); Bangladesh (1975); Haiti (1991 & 2004), . . . The agency should be disbanded and the funds used for promoting real peace and democracy around the world.

Gaston for District 6 Council

Barbara Gilbert
Friday October 21, 2016 - 01:04:00 PM

I am writing to urge you to help Isabelle Gaston in her run for the District 6 Council seat, whether or not you live in District 6. (90% of councilmember duties affect our entire city and voters therefore have a huge interest in all district representatives)
As many of you know, I have been a very active municipal observer for over eighteen years, and have built up a lode of knowledge about City policies, politics, and personalities. Isabelle is the only candidate who I can unequivocally endorse in our local election.
Isabelle has been in the forefront of the effort to address our City's dire fiscal situation and shredding physical infrastructure. Because of her writing, thinking, and organizing on these issues, her message has actually been taken up by some other local candidates (including her opponent Councilmember Wengraf), and claimed as their own. This is a victory of sorts...but the fact remains that it was Isabelle's thinking, writing, and leadership that made the difference. She is independent and a leader, not a follower.
While the issue of growth and development is very complex, unlike all other candidates Isabelle has raised the sticky but fundamental issue of Berkeley's carrying capacity, and she is a proponent of much slower and much more thoughtful growth.
Go to www.isabellegaston.com for more information.

The Red Cross

Jagjit Singh
Friday October 21, 2016 - 01:31:00 PM

The devastating hurricane that brought havoc and destruction to Haiti has invoked fresh memories of the outright fraud perpetrated by the American Red Cross following the 2010 Earthquake. 

At the time ProPublica published a scathing investigative report on the Red Cross’s alleged “development” project. The report was entitled “how the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars and Built Six Homes”. 

Internal memos and emails from frustrated employees confirm that the Red Cross completely failed in its mission in Haiti. It squandered hundreds of millions of dollars of donations and made dubious claims for its success. Despite repeated requests, it has refused to disclose details of its disbursements of the funds collected. If it continues to refuse to open its books for scrutiny, it should have its non-profit status revoked. 

This is also a failure of the government agency responsible for oversight of the Red Cross. 

For details of the ProPublica report see https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the red-cross-raised-half-a-billion-dollars-for-haitii-and-built-6-homes. For more, For more, go to http://callforsocialjustice.blogspot.com/


THE PUBLIC EYE:Debate 3: Smackdown at the HRC Corral

Bob Burnett
Friday October 21, 2016 - 12:44:00 PM

The third presidential debate had the elements of a classic Hollywood western. A robber-baron, Donald Trump, tries to takeover the town; the inhabitants turn, incongruously, to the local "schoolmarm", Hillary Clinton. They meet in an epic "battle" and the good woman forces the bad guy into mistake after mistake. At the end, Hillary walked into the audience, smiling, while Trump remained on stage, petrified. 

As she'd done in the first debate, Clinton's strategy was to needle Trump and force him to make errors. During the discussion on immigration, Clinton said: "[Donald] used undocumented labor to build the Trump Tower. He underpaid undocumented workers, and when they complained, he basically said what a lot of employers do: 'You complain, I'll get you deported.'" Trump failed to respond. 

Clinton rattled Trump during an exchange of Russian hacking: "Will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are doing this and make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in in this election, that he rejects Russian espionage against Americans, which he actually encouraged in the past?" Trump equivocated, mumbling Putin "has no respect" for Hillary. She replied, "That's because he'd rather have a puppet as president of the United States." 

With the puppet comment, Hillary got under Trump's skin and he got angry. And sloppy. 

Trump's defense of his economic plan was incoherent. Clinton responded, "Let me translate that..." She noted Trump's praise of the Chinese economy, adding, "One of the biggest problems we have with China is the illegal dumping of steel and aluminum into our markets... In fact, the Trump Hotel right here in Las Vegas was made with Chinese steel. So [Donald] goes around with crocodile tears about how terrible it is, but he has given jobs to Chinese steelworkers, not American steelworkers." 

Instead of responding, Trump asked a question: What had Clinton accomplished in her thirty years as a public service? Clinton pounced: "You know, back in the 1970s, I worked for the Children's Defense Fund. And I was taking on discrimination against African-American kids in schools. [Donald] was getting sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination in his apartment buildings. In the 1980s, I was working to reform the schools in Arkansas. He was borrowing $14 million from his father to start his businesses. In the 1990s, I went to Beijing and I said women's rights are human rights. He insulted a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado... And on the day when I was in the Situation Room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, [Donald] was hosting the 'Celebrity Apprentice.'" 

By this point, Trump was visibly angry. When asked about allegations of groping women, Trump stammered, "Those stores have been largely debunked... I believe it was her campaign that did it." 

Clinton replied: "Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don't think there is a woman anywhere who doesn't know what that feels like. So we now know what Donald thinks and what he says and how he acts toward women." 

Trump shouted, "Nobody has more respect for women than I do." The audience laughed at him. 

Trump said, "[Hillary] should never have been allowed to run for the presidency based on what she did with e-mails and so many other things." 

The moderator asked Trump, "There is a tradition in this country -- in fact, one of the prides of this country -- is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner... Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?" Trump responded, "I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense. OK?" 

Clinton responded: "That's horrifying. You know, every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is, is rigged against him.The FBI conducted a year-long investigation into my e-mails. They concluded there was no case; he said the FBI was rigged... He lost the Wisconsin primary. He said the Republican primary was rigged against him. Then Trump University gets sued for fraud and racketeering; he claims the court system and the federal judge is rigged against him. There was even a time when he didn't get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged against him." 

By this point in the debate, Trump was visibly angry. His explanation of his plan for Iraq, after Mosul falls, was incoherent. He began to interrupt Clinton with, "Wrong." 

The concluding debate segment concerned the national debt. Trump was asked to respond to experts who say his economic plan will increase the debt "to 105 percent of GDP over the next 10 years." Trump avoided the entire question. 

The moderator asked Trump what he would do to save Medicare and Social Security. Again, Trump did not answer the question but instead attacked Obamacare. 

Clinton responded: "I am on record as saying that we need to put more money into the Social Security Trust Fund. That's part of my commitment to raise taxes on the wealthy. My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald's, assuming he can't figure out how to get out of it." 

Trump lashed out, "Such a nasty woman." 

What most will remember about this debate is Trump's failure to commit to support the outcome of the election: "I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense. OK?" 

But what the debate proved is that Hillary Clinton is tougher than Donald Trump. The robber-baron tried to take over the town and the schoolmarm smacked him down. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Bad Effects of Trump on People in Recovery

Jack Bragen
Friday October 21, 2016 - 12:41:00 PM

I can only speak for myself, but that is typical of my column which consists of the opinions of one man with mental illness--me. However, I can guess that at least in this case, numerous other mentally ill people may feel the same way.  

The current Presidential campaigning is causing additional trauma for those with post-traumatic stress—something from which numerous mentally ill people suffer. While trauma may not be at the root of most mental illnesses, those of us who have a mental illness are usually traumatized because of the circumstances that often arise upon becoming mentally ill.  

Persons with mental illness lead difficult lives. It is traumatic to have the illness happen initially, and, additionally traumatic, are the things that happen to us as a result of being in institutions, such as jails, psychiatric wards, and board and care homes. If you talk to a typical mentally ill person, they may very likely answer "yes" if you ask if he or she has been raped or molested at some point in their lives.  

It is probably harder for men than women to speak of this, but it is very hard for women to speak up about it. It is something many of us would rather put behind us, submerge the memory, and pretend it never happened. There is an undeserved sense of shame that comes with being a victim of sexual abuse.  

Trump's pattern of public abusiveness toward anyone who isn't Trump lends believability to the allegations of sexual misconduct. He attempts to use intimidation as a weapon whenever anyone opposes him at anything. His whole pattern of campaigning is laced with abuse. This is massively bad.  

Donald Trump doesn't get it that by virtue of being a billionaire and well-known public figure, as well as having a good chance at attaining arguably the highest office on Earth, responsibility comes with that power.  

This campaign reopens old wounds for many of us, and re-traumatizes us. Anyone who has been a victim of an abusive individual is likely to be negatively affected by this horrible, ugly campaign.  

Reopening old wounds and re-traumatizing us may cause us to lose ground mentally, it may cause us anguish, and it may cause us to have more difficulty in doing the things necessary toward getting our basic needs met.  

There is something wrong with our culture if we allow someone to have that much power, fame, and money, who has repeatedly demonstrated completely irresponsible and destructive use of his position. If you would like to put a stop to this abuse, the least you can do is to vote, the second Tuesday in November, or right now, by mail.  

A final note: If evidence arises that Trump is in collusion with the Russian government, he ought to be charged with treason after he loses or wins the Presidency.  

Thanks much to more people who have bought my book, "Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia," available on Amazon. Those who have generously purchased this book have helped support the continuation of this column, and have received a valuable, readable self-help manual.

ECLECTIC RANT: the Wells Fargo scandal in a nutshell

Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 21, 2016 - 12:49:00 PM

Recently, much has been written about the Wells Fargo scandal where, to meet aggressive sales quotas, the bank charged unwitting customers $1.5 million in fees for accounts they didn’t know they opened. They made 565,000 false credit card applications, sometimes closing the accounts as quickly as they were given credit for opening them. This misconduct stretches back at least to 2005. 

As a Wells Fargo checking account holder, I am particularly interested in how the scandal unfolds. 

In December 2013, the Los Angeles Time reported about the practice, employees filed individual lawsuits about the practice, as early as 2005 employees within the bank complained about the practice, and in 2011 — in at least two cases — employees wrote letters to John Stumpf, Chairman of the Board and CEO about the practice. Yet, it wasn't until 2013, that Wells Fargo realized that it had a big problem. 

Wells Fargo & Company, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world's second largest bank by market capitalization and the third largest bank in the U.S. by assets. John Stumpf is the Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer, and President. 

In the wake of this scandal, Wells Fargo fired 5,300 low-level managers and employees for their involvement in the scandal. 

The bank agreed to pay full restitution to all victims and a $100 million fine to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's civil penalty fund — the largest in the regulator's five-year operating history. Wells Fargo will also pay a separate $35 million penalty to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and an additional $50 million to the city and county of Los Angeles, who had filed a civil suit accusing the bank of violating California unfair competition laws. Finally, the bank said it had made provisions to include an additional $5 million in customer remediation. 

So far, Stumpf has got off largely scot free. He "retired" effectively immediately and will forfeit about $41 million in unvested equity but will receive $134 million in stock and retirement benefits or $3.6 million per year if he lives to 100 before investment income or inflation are taken into account. Carrie Tolstedt, the head of the division where the fake accounts were created, retired with $124 million in stocks and options.  

Stumpf was called to testify before the Senate Banking Committee and suffered humiliation at the hands of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and others who scolded him for failing to stop the problem. Warren, in an 18-minute tirade, demanded to know whether he had or planned to pay back his CEO-grade compensation or resign. Stumpf sheepishly deferred that decision to the board he sits on and chairs. 

Unfortunately, the Senate Banking Committee doesn't have the authority to punish Wells Fargo or Stumpf or demand account holders be compensated or executives fired. However, Warren's tirade and Stumpf's testimony went off C-Span 2 to the internet and social media. The public shaming got more than 11 million views and almost 200,000 shares.  

Hopefully, the Senate Banking Committee's hearing will persuade the Justice Department to prosecute senior Wells Fargo executives for fraud. Supposedly, the Justice Department has issued subpoenas to Wells Fargo over the scandal. I am not optimistic that criminal proceedings will ever be brought against Stumpf or other Wells Fargo senior executives. 

As of now, we have another case of wide-spread fraud where the little fraudsters get fired while the big fraudsters retire with nice pensions and benefits. Who said misconduct doesn't pay for those at the top of the food chain. 


ECLECTIC RANT: Post-Debate Musings

Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 21, 2016 - 12:56:00 PM

Should he lose the election, Trump won't pledge to concede to the winner. He's going to keep us in "suspense." This shouldn't surprise anyone. Remember, the first Republican debate in August 2015, when he said he would refuse to endorse the eventual Republican nominee for president. In September 2015, he refused to sign a loyalty to the party, but later he did sign the pledge. Then later during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, he was asked if he was sticking to his pledge to support the nominee. "No, I don't anymore," Trump said. "No, we'll see who it is." Trump is not a loyal Republican Party member; he is really an outsider with his own private agenda. 

Why should Trump be a graceful loser. I expect Trump to start a TV/Radio program after he loses where he can rant about the rigged election and biased media coverage. He didn't lose; it was taken from him. After all, he will have about 30 to 40% of the voters as a potential audience, an audience he might lose if he concedes the election. He might even finally win an Emmy. 

He will, of course, leave the Republican Party in shambles.

Arts & Events

Around & About--Theater: New Play Written & Directed by Bahram Beyzaie

Ken Bullock
Friday October 21, 2016 - 03:35:00 PM

Not long after I started reviewing for the Planet a dozen years ago, I went to a production at Ashby Stage. Shotgun was collaborating with Darvag Theatre of Oakland, an Iranian-American troupe that mostly performs in Farsi. The production was an English translation of 'The Death of Yazdgerd,' the last pre-Islamic Shah of Iran, killed under mysterious circumstances after the battle won by the Arab Muslim invaders. The play was written by Bahram Beyzaie. 

After seeing the show, which centered around the questioning of a miller and his family--Yazgerd's body (present onstage, resting in state, wearing a golden mask) had been found in a mill--and their often contradictory acting out of the events leading to the discovery (something a little like the great story and film of 'Rashomon') or certain "Absurdist" plays)--I reviewed the script as "delicious theater" in the Planet and told others it was the finest play by a living playwright I'd reviewed for any publication.  

Twelve years later, I feel the same. 

A few years ago, I found out that Beyzaie--not only a playwright, but pioneer filmmaker, scholar, teacher who's often credited with the founding of an original Iranian form of theater in the 60s--was teaching at Stanford. I saw a production of his--the first Iranian shadowplay (an ancient Central Asian tradition, probably via China) in centuries--and was able to interview him in the office of Dr. Abbas Milani, director of Iranian Studies at stanford, and found him a remarkable, urbane man of the theater, brilliant in conversation. Later, I saw his first film, which had been restored in Milan, at the pacific Film archive as part of the SF International Film Festival.  

Beyzaie's still teaching at Stanford. And this weekend and next, the second part of his new play, 'Tarabnameh,' will play at the De Anza College Visual & Performing Arts Center in Cupertino, produced by Iranian Studies at Stanford and directed by Beyzaie and featuring Shabnam Tooneh, an actress well-known to Iranians.  

'Talabnameh' is about a hadji who sets out to sell his servant and buy a slave girl--and what he sees along the way: a poet about to be beheaded, a young lover in search of his abducted beloved, banned troubadours desperate to perform and bring happiness to people ... "the world they see is all topsy-turvy." 

It's based in an old Iranian performance tradition, Takhte-Hozi, with comedy, music, dance and poetry--bringing traditional performance styles into modern theater to give them new life is a Beyzaie specialty. 

It's long--5 1/2 hours, with two intermissions, one for 30 minutes--and in Farsi. Obviously, it's not for everyone, but for the adventurous, for those who are looking for the true contemporary theater of the world--and maybe who are used to watching the performing arts in a language they don't immediately understand--the closeness of the production makes it irresistable. 

Friday, October 21 at 5:30, Saturday and Sunday the 22nd & 23rd at 4, Friday the 28th at 5:30, Sunday the 30th at 4. Information: (650) 725-2787 (10 a.m.-5 p. m.) $52-72, discounts for Stanford students, staff & faculty.

Do Not Resist: How America's Police Are becoming an Occupying Military Force

Gar Smith
Friday October 21, 2016 - 12:58:00 PM

Opens October 21 at the Elmwood in Berkeley

Filmmaker Craig Atkinson's dad was a Detroit-area cop for 29 years and a member of his town's first SWAT team in 1989. Both the filmmaker and his retired father are troubled by the direction policing has taken in the US over the post-9/11 years and Do Not Resist—a visceral, unnarrated 73-minute documentary—presents a powerful warning about the perils and growing presence of an American Police State.

Director/cinematographer/editor Atkinson's pro-police background enabled him to gain uncommon entrée into the world of policing—hanging out with cops, attending their conferences and training sessions, even squeezing his camera inside urban tanks crowded with automatic weapons and combat-ready enforcers heading to suburban drug raids.

The 1878 Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the federal government from using military personnel to enforce domestic laws. In the 1960's, however, when UC Berkeley was besieged by bayonet-wielding soldiers, we saw how the National Guard could be deployed to avoid this law. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon and the War Lobby found a new way to entrench their powers and enrich their coffers—by turning domestic police into a virtual army equipped with full-scale combat weaponry including assault rifles, drones, and armored personnel carriers.

But here's the problem: when you adopt these weapons, you also adopt the killer mentality they are designed to serve.




Atkinson's camera was on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri, as a crowd awaited a Grand Jury verdict on whether officer Darren Wilson would be charged with the shooting death of Michael Brown. Under a nighttime sky bursting with bolts of lightening, the situation had reached a dicey equilibrium—as long as protestors kept moving, the police would make no arrests. But when midnight came, the police ordered everyone to disperse. 

"We are not armed! We are not looting!" the protestors yelled, standing firm on their First Amendment turf. 

There was no real reason for the order to disperse—other than for the police to establish that they were the ones who give the orders and everyone must obey. It's one of the oldest friction points in human history: the conflict between Master and Slave. The demand had the predictable result: an initiation of police violence enhanced by blasts of tear gas grenades, followed by angry words, broken store windows and burning cars. 

In the midst of the turmoil, the filmmakers captured an emotionally searing moment with an African American police officer and an impassioned protestor standing face-to-face, yelling and desperately trying to be heard by the other. 

Some officers subsequently called the police response to the Fergusson demonstrations an "embarrassment," with police responsible for escalating the situation. 

During a national task force hearing on police violence, one speaker (a man who spent years in prison for a crime he didn't commit) reminded the panel about something that is typically forgotten: "This country was founded on riots." He went on to observe that "a badge is a powerful thing and sometimes it's like money. It plays tricks on people's minds. They think they're God." 

The Cop as Superhero, Caped Avenger, and God 

Dave Grossman is "America's Number One trainer of all US military and local law enforcement" personnel. He's a cheerleader for tyranny who flatters his audiences by telling them they are exceptional, necessary and all-powerful. 

"The policeman is the MAN of the city," Grossman grins as the camera rolls. "You fight violence with superior violence. Righteous violence, YEAH! Violence is your tool. You are men and women of violence. You must master it or it will destroy you, yeah?" 

And Grossman describes some unexpected fringe benefits. "End of shift. Gunfight. Bad guys down. I'm alive. Finally get home at the end of the incident and they all say: 'Best sex I've had in months.'" One of the little-known perks of police-work—violence as Viagra. 

In one emotional wind-up, Grossman tells his spell-bound listeners to take a moment some night to illegally park on a freeway overpass, step out of their cars, place their hands on the bridge railings, gaze out over the city they protect, and "Let your cape blow in the wind. Hoo-ahh!" 

According to Do Not Resist, Grossman is required reading at the FBI and police academies across the US. 

Do Not Resist shows the human side of these officers—many of them decent people trapped in an indecent proposition. "I'm just doing my job," one young white officer says apologetically after smashing his way into a home in a black neighborhood, "You just got caught in the middle." 

And there is an unexpected moment that answers the question "How do cops flirt?" Keyword: "Shield bump!" 

Militarizing the Cops. Subverting the Constitution 

FBI chief Robert Comey appears on screen before a conference of US police officers and praises the controversial urban surveillance centers known as "fusion centers." Comey hails them as a key tool for police to stay "in touch" and respond "to a metastasizing threat." And just how dire is the "metastasizing threat" of domestic terrorist violence? According to the US National Safety Council, Atkinson notes, the likelihood dying from a terrorist attack is about 1 in 20 million. 

In August 2013, in a small town that has seen only two murders in the past 12 years, a city council is meeting to consider accepting a $250,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security. But there's a catch: the money can only be used to buy a heavily armored Bearcat military assault vehicle. 

One local resident, a retired Marine Corp colonel, advises the council: "You don't need this. . . . What's happening is we're building a domestic military because it's unlawful and unconstitutional to use American troops on American soil. . . .We're building an army over here and I can't believe people aren't seeing it." 

Since 9/11 Department of Homeland Security has handed out $34 billion in tax dollars in programs designed to militarize our domestic police force. The Pentagon has thrown in another $5 billion to up-arm America's cops. 

In some cases, $1.2 million MRAPs (war-surplus vehicles used in deadly combat in Iraq) have been handed out for free. But there are a couple of downsides. Sometimes the new owners find a severed finger or a patch of burned flesh in the recycled war tools. Also, the 25,000-pound MRAPs are prone to roll-over accidents. Avoiding this requires special training, but that is not included when the cops are given these top-heavy war toys. 

One police chief argues MRAPs are useful when executing "no-knock warrants." You know, the kind of unannounced armed police home invasions have a tendency to spark unpredictable and potentially threatening responses from started residents who suddenly find themselves under attack. 

In a Senate hearing, Sen. Rand Paul asks a government official why the Pentagon has handed out 12,000 bayonets. Another Senator wants to know why a small town with only one deputy was given two MRAP assault vehicles. The government official has no explanation. 

Nearly 40% of the supposed "hand-me-downs" are actually brand-new-never-been-used. When these expensive gadgets of war are given away, one savvy Senator asks, doesn't that mean the government has to pay through the nose when the Pentagon needs to purchase replacements? 

SWATing Down Civil Rights and Civilians, Too 

Under Pentagon rules, none of these combat-level weapons are to be used for the suppression of domestic disturbances. But that is, in fact, exactly what has been happening. 

A SWAT training exercise in South Carolina filmed by Atkinson shows a line of 20-plus combat-ready cops (some in military camo suits) advancing on a row of paper targets. But this is neither a combat situation nor a standard policing operation. 

The soldier-cops are not crouching behind barricades to fire. They are not carrying shields. The are marching forward together in a line. Five steps forward: halt and fire. Five steps forward: halt and fire. This continues until the cops are standing three feet in front of the targets. 

Look closely. The targets are lined up like the participants in the front of a protest march. All of the targets show the silhouette of an unarmed male with his hands at his side. The set-up for this exercise does not reflect anything that resembles a realistic "threat situation." What it suggests instead, is practice for the mass murder of unarmed civilians. Five steps forward: halt and fire. Wait for the first row of victims to fall to the ground and . . . . Five steps forward: halt and fire. 

We're the Cops of the World, Boys 

We used to talk about the stabilizing role of America as "the world's policeman" but the militarizing of our domestic police has brought the real truth of this fictious Global Cop home to roost. When those same weapons that our troops used to point at people in Iraq are pointed at us, cops no longer look like saviors. The truth is that the modern police force is not entrusted to "Protect and Serve." The real mission is to "Control and Oppress."  

Not surprisingly, there is a growing overlap between our troops and our cops: today, as many as 40% of a typical police force may be former military vets. 

Interviewed after one "domestic training exercise," a burly supervisor admits his focus is on (1) "anything dealing with ISIS," (2) "weapons of mass destruction," and (3) "any type of unruly crowds that we would have to deal with on civil disturbance." 

In 1980s, Do Not Resist tells us, there were, on average, 3,000 SWAT incidents a year. Today, SWAT teams are being unleashed at a rate of 50-80,000 times per year. 

On several occasions, Do Not Resist places the audience inside the cramped space of an armored personnel carrier as militarized teams of Grossman's caped crusaders prepare to storm into suburban neighborhoods and pounce on unsuspecting family homes. 

In Richland County, South Carolina, a SWAT team being prepped for acting on a warrant involving suspected drug activity is advised that the suspect has children who may be in the home. But there were "no children's toys visible around the house," a supervisor announces, so the raid will proceed with the goal of "taking them all down." 

The unnecessary violence that unfolds is shocking, unnerving, and unnecessary. The largely white SWAT team leaves an African American family traumatized. And yes, there were children in the house, including at least one infant. 

The break-in fails to find anything more than a few small crumbs of marijuana for personal use but one of the cops seizes an opportunity to confiscate several hundred dollars of cash from the pockets of one of the residents. 

The Future of Policing Is Here 

It's already happening, Do Not Resist reveals. Aerial surveillance and facial recognition programs already are being used by the FBI and other government agencies. One commercialized system employs techniques developed under the Pentagon's "Angel Fire"—an aerial spy program once used inside Iraq to monitor the citizens of Fallujah as they went about their daily lives. 

In Los Angles, a police officer shows off the onboard spy system in the patrol car she uses to patrol the streets. Cameras capture license plate numbers and facial recognition software spots people on the street who have outstanding warrants and can be targeted for arrest. 

"When you're out in public," the officer explains, "there is no expectation of privacy." 

LA police reportedly command 1,000 surveillance cameras for monitoring people in the urban outdoors. At the same time, the LAPD is busily spying on social media sites, trolling for keywords that might reveal any plans for imminent public "protests." And once those protests "metastasize," a new generation of military-based robotic drones—sophisticated devices that can "swarm" and communicate with one another—can be used to monitor the marchers. The potential use of drones armed with teargas, rifles, and Hellfire missiles remain, as they say, "on the table." 

Other agencies are preoccupied with a new branch of police science—forecasting who is likely to commit a crime in the future. A criminologist expounds on the promise of "pre-crime" enforcement—an policing technique straight out of the Tom Cruise sci-fi film Minority Report that allows police to arrest people before they commit a planned crime. 

As one academic tells the Do Not Resist crew, he would be willing to mistakenly arrest "a couple of Luke Sykwalkers" if that also meant arresting a single "Darth Vader" along the way. 

At the end of the film, Grossman, in a wild-eyed messianic frenzy, sums it all up when he tells a roomful of uniformed listeners: "We are at war and you are on the frontlines of this war." 

That statement is increasingly true for both the cops in Grossman's tutorials and for every citizen on our country's increasingly embattled streets. 

Postscript: More more information on the militarization of America's police, see Radley Balko's 2013 book, Rise of the Warrior Cop.

Movies in the Margin: The Disability Film Festival, the UN Film Festival, and Films on Fracking

Gar Smith
Friday October 21, 2016 - 12:48:00 PM

The Disability Film Festival

Screenings on Saturday, October 22 at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in Berkeley and Sunday, October 23 at The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Superfest, the world's longest-running disability film festival. Since it first debuted in a small Los Angeles showcase in 1970, Superfest: The International Disability Film Festival has become an eagerly anticipated international event—co-hosted by San Francisco's Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Paul K. Longmore Institute.

Hollywood has had a long and feverish romance with disease and disability (c.f., Love Story, My Left Foot, A Beautiful Mind, The Theory of Everything) but these award-winning blockbusters frequently have left the disabled community feeling jilted. Hence, the Superfest.

As a blog on the Longmore Institute website puts it: "We [no longer] have to settle for the typical fare of nondisabled actors getting Oscars for playing disabled people in ways that promote pity and helplessness. We know that disability isn't just about Kleenex™ boxes and suicide."




Superfest is one of the few festivals, in the US or abroad, that is completely accessible to disabled filmgoers. All films are screened with captioning and audio-descriptions and all live dialogue (with filmmakers, comics, and guests) will be accompanied by live captioning and rendered in American Sign Language. This year's filmmakers will be coming from Israel, Italy, France, England, and Canada. 

The two-day event begins in Berkeley on October 22, at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (2121 Allston Way) before moving to San Francisco for additional screenings at The Contemporary Jewish Museum (736 Mission Street). 

The eleven films on thia year's docket will introduce you to some remarkable people whose stories deserve to be pure box-office gold. The stories will captivate. You may find yourself falling in love with the characters engaged in these tales of trial, tribulation and transcendence. (Warning: You mght even find yourself tearing-up while watching some of the trailers included below.) 

Advance tickets for sale now at: http://www.superfestfilm.com/tickets/: 

Special Event: The 4:30-6PM awards ceremony in Berkeley will honor Pixar's Academy Award®-winning Producer Jonas Rivera (Inside Out, Up) and Post-Production Supervisor Paul Cichocki who will receive the Superfest's first-ever Producer's Award "for the advancement of disability and film." 

With the backing of Pixar and Disney, Rivera and Cichocki have revolutionized the accessibility of the films to all audiences. Thanks to Pixar's new audio-description app, anyone who is blind or has low vision can now stream audio description for any Pixar film right over their smart phone in real-time. Superfest predicts that this kind of "total film content access" will soon be adopted industry-wide. 

Pixar also wins Superfest plaudits for its 2016 release, Finding Dory, an animated feature that garnered widespread praise from the disability community for its presentation of the title character's short-term memory loss—which was depicted, not as a crippling disability, but as a challenge that encouraged other characters to create solutions. 

While Superfest promotes the positive, it also takes time to "guffaw at the worst in disability film." Each year, Superfest bestows a "Dissie" (the equivalent of the Golden Raspberry Award's "Razzies") on a film that "completely misses the mark about disability." 

This year's Dissie goes to Me Before You, a film that triggered protests across the country for what was characterized as a "disability snuff film." The MGM feature told the story of a rich, good-looking, "man of privilege" who becomes a quadriplegic and concludes that his best option is to commit suicide. 

The runners-up included: Don't Breathe (three young thieves break into a house and are terrorized by a blind veteran) and Gregory Go Boom (a "dark comedy" in which a paraplegic man fails at dating and sets himself on fire). 

Festival coordinator Emily Beitiks explains what sets Superfest apart: "With disabled comedians as our emcees and presentations from disability community leaders, [Superfest] is a place for the community to come together and celebrate disability as a creative and generative force—something that the majority of Hollywood does not yet understand." 

Here is the Festival Schedule 

Different films will be shown both days. Each venue will include filmmakers along with Q&A sessions and moderated discussions. (For more detail on specific films, go to: http://www.superfestfilm.com/2016-films/) 

Saturday, October 22: 1-4PM 

Terminal Device (Canada). Written, directed, and produced by Ross Turnbull. 


Terminal Device Trailer from Ross Turnbull on Vimeo


Supersonic (England)—Best of Festival, Short. Directed by Samuel Dore, written by Cihan Narin, produced by Maverick Litchfield-Kelly. 


Supersonic Promo from Neath Films on Vimeo


Yam's Journey (Israel). Directed, written, and produced by Rubi Gat. 

October 22: 6PM 

Double Discrimination (England). Disability Justice Award. Written and directed by Rinkoo Barpaga. 

Best and Most Beautiful Things (United States). Best of Festival, Feature. Written and directed by Garrett Zevgetis; produced by Ariana Garfinkel, Jeff Consiglio, Garrett Zevgetis, and Jordan Salvatoriello. 


Sunday, October 23: 1PM 

Zoufs (Belgium). Written and directed by Tom Boccara, Noe Reutenauer, and Emilien Vekemans; produced by Jean-Yves and Cassandre Waranauts. 

The Right to be Rescued (United States). Advocacy Award. Directed by Jordan Melograna, produced by Jordan Melograna and Mark Stroh 

Like If . . . (Italy). Directed by Daniele Bonari; written by Michele Squillace. 


Trailer - Come se.. from Poti Pictures on Vimeo


The Sea Reminds Me (England). Directed by Ray Jacobs, Jonathan Tritton; written by Ray Jacobs, Mervyn Bradley, and Jonathan Tritton. 


Hear Me (France). Written and directed by Nicolas Coquet; produced by Thierry Etienne, Anne Etienne, Nicolas Capdeville, and Nicolas Coquet. 

Awake (England). Liane Yasumoto Jury's Choice Award. Written and directed by Michael Achtman, produced by Caglar Kimyonc. 



UN Film Festival, October 20-30  

Celebrating 19 Years of Documentary Filmmaking with 60 Films from around the World 

The United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF), now in its 19th year, is recognized as one of the oldest and most respected documentary film festivals in the United States. Founded by Stanford educator and film critic Jasmina Bojic, this year's event will present 11 days of documentaries from Afghanistan, Argentina, Cuba, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Syria, South Africa and the US. 

The theme for this year, "Compass for a Better World," continues the ongoing celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and focuses on the various aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The films will be screened from October 20-30 at locations in Palo Alto, Stanford University, East Palo Alto, and San Francisco and include works by several Bay Area filmmakers. 

UNAFF’s mission has expanded to broad, year round programs that augment its reach. In addition to the annual film festival, UNAFF organizes panel discussions, initiates programs that engage children, students, seniors, veterans, hosts a traveling festival which keeps the films alive well beyond their initial festival showings and opens its doors to documentary film students and researchers. 

Topics in this year's festival include: climate change, the impact of industrial and military ocean noise on whales, gun control, the capture and counting of votes in our elections, the evolution of political media, efforts to restore violins recovered from the Holocaust, Islamic seminars for children, refugees using the power of theater, the future of our food, extinction of bees, homelessness, women in Internet technology, race on college campuses, the only health clinic that serves undocumented immigrants in the US, collateral damage in the War on Drugs, veterans mental health, and criminal justice. 

The Festival’s 6 World Premieres Include:  

Boy 23 (Brazil) 

Finding Oscar (Guatemala/US)
How to Defuse a Bomb: The Project Children Story (Ireland/UK/US) 

Stolen Youth: Political Prisoner of the Dictatorship (Argentina/Sweden/US) 

Surviving International Boulevard: Domestic Child Sex Trafficking (US) 

Under the Turban (Argentina/Canada/India/Italy/Singapore/UK/US) 




16 documentaries will have their US premieres in the Festival including:  

The Longest Race (Ethiopia/Kenya/Spain) 

7 Days in Syria (Italy, Syria, US) 

Agents of Change (US) 

Among the Believers (Afghanistan/Pakistan/US) 

Cast from the Storm (Australia) 

Children Deported: Farida (Afghanistan/Norway) 

Dresden Refuge (Germany/Spain) 

Dugma—The Button (Norway/Syria) 

El Poeta (Mexico/US) 

The Empty Room (Belgium/France/Syria) 

Nefertiti’s Daughters (Egypt) 

Non Assistance (France/Italy/Malta/Spain/Switzerland) 

Petals in the Dust: The Endangered Indian Girls (Canada/India/US) 

Swim for Life (France) 

Welcome to Refugeestan (France/Greece/Jordan/Kenya/Macedonia/Sweden/Switzerland/Tanzania/UK) 

Why Are the Bees Dying? (Germany) 

The complete schedule is available online at this link: http://www.unaff.org/2016/schedule.html 

Navajo Math Circles 


Local filmmaker/director George Csicsery will be joined by mathematicians Tatiana Shubin and David Eisenbud along with Hopi-Navajo teacher Duane Yazzi for a Q&A following the screening of his film, Navajo Math Circles at 11:15 AM, October 22 at the Mitchell Park Community Center (3700 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto). Admission is free. 

UNAFF is committed not only to presenting films, but also creating spaces where audience members can engage in ongoing dialogue about the subjects at hand. Six FREE panel discussions will take place during the course of the Festival covering the preciousness of each child, guns and society, the crossroads of civil rights, fear, prejudice, and race, arts for social change, and the intersection of health and ethics. 

It was founded by Stanford educator and film critic Jasmina Bojic.  

In 2014 the ICFT (International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication of UNESCO) presented the UNESCO Fellini Medal to Jasmina Bojic, Founder and Executive Director of UNAFF, in recognition of her exceptional contribution in promoting the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through the art of documentary film.  


Films Against Fracking: Hosted by the Oakland Institute 

October 25, 7pm at The New Parkway Theater 

Despite serious environmental and social concerns, hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking")—the process of drilling deep into the ground and using a toxic mixture of high-pressure water to shatter layers of rock to release oil and gas—has broken loose across California. 

This upcoming Tuesday, the Oakland Institute will be hosting a special screening of two short films on the fight against fracking at the community-run New Parkway (474 24th Street, Oakland between Telegraph and Broadway). 


Dear Governor Brown looks at the contradictions of Gov. Jerry Brown—considered the “greenest” Governor in the US by some, but simultaneously encouraging growing fracking production in the region—and explores fracking in our state.  

Faith Against Fracking looks at the role of faith leaders from multiple backgrounds in forming alliances and contributing to the struggle to end fracking. 

Following the films, the Oakland Institute's Elizabeth Fraser will moderate a discussion on the anti-fracking movement in California, featuring Shannon Biggs of Movement Rights and David Braun of Americans Against Fracking. 

The New Parkway offers diverse programming, good food and beer selections, theaters filled with couches instead of rowed seating, and manifests a strong commitment to fair labor standards and environment preservation. 

Tickets are available for $10 online or at the theater boxoffice: https://ticketing.us.veezi.com/purchase/1781