The Week



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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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? -more-

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. -more-

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.




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. -more-

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. -more-

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 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. -more-


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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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.


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."