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Planet on Vacation

The Management
Sunday May 19, 2019 - 07:55:00 AM

Our gigantic staff of 1+1 is taking a bit of time off. The new issue will appear sooner or later.

The Erik Jekabson String-tet, with Mads Tolling, Michael Zilber & Kalil Wilson, Plays the Music of Duke Ellington at the Berkeley Hillside Club, Friday May 17 at 8

Ken Bullock
Wednesday May 15, 2019 - 05:17:00 PM

Trumpeter/composer/arranger Erik Jekabson, who's arranged for the San Francisco Symphony and accompanied Illinois Jacquet on the road, will lead his eight piece chamber String-tet, including violinist Mads Tolling, saxophonist Michael Zilber and guest vocalist Kalil Wilson, in an exploration of the music of Duke Ellington "from new angles," Friday May 17th at 8 at the Berkeley Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar (between Spruce & Arch). Tickets: $25 general, $15 seniors & students, $10 Club members. (510) 845-1350; https://bhcweb.wixsite.com/hillsideclub 

The String-tet also includes Charith Premawardhana, viola; Dan Neville, vibes; Adam Schulman, piano; Shimpei Ogawa, bass & Dylan Vado, drums. 

Erik Jekabson's Electric Squeezebox Orchestra plays every Sunday at the California Jazz Conservatory on Addison off Shattuck, downtown Berkeley.

New study challenges Wiener’s approach to housing

Tim Redmond
Tuesday May 14, 2019 - 09:48:00 PM

Eminent economic geographers say that deregulation and upzoning will make gentrification in cities like SF much worse.

Pretty much everybody who’s paying attention to the housing crisis in San Francisco – except, apparently, the Chronicle – is talking about the new study by eminent economic geographers Andrés Rodríguez-Pose and Michael Storper that argues against looser zoning rules as a solution to the housing crisis.

Even Richard Florida, who used to love the idea of cities attracting the young “creative class” (before he discovered gentrification) says the study is important. It’s the latest in a series of studies that challenge the notion that allowing the private market to build more housing will bring down prices. 

Open letter to Mayor Arreguin about BART Parking

Russ Tilleman
Tuesday May 14, 2019 - 10:13:00 PM

I want to point out that building housing near BART cannot reduce Berkeley's carbon footprint... all it can do is limit how much it increases as our population grows. 

Limiting increases is good, but it won't solve the problem. We need a solution that actually reduces the carbon emitted by the people who already live here.
In addition, Wikipedia says North Berkeley BART currently has 822 parking spaces, and my understanding is that the lot fills up every weekday. That is 822 cars that currently aren't driven to the driver's ultimate destination.
According to:
the maximum number of parking spaces being considered for the development is 460. 822 minus 460 is 362 cars that currently park at North Berkeley BART that will instead be driven all the way to where the drivers are going. So at least 362 current BART riders will be forced into their cars.
That assumes that each parking space only holds one car per day. Some of them probably hold different cars at different times of day, so the number of cars forced onto the roads will be more than 362. And that is if none of the parking spaces are used by people who live in the building. Every car belonging to a resident will use up a space and force one or more additional cars onto the roads.
The maximum number of housing units I see proposed is 750, and some residents won't be riding BART. It is quite possible that the net result of the development will be an INCREASE IN CARBON EMISSIONS due to the increased number of people driving their cars.
This makes absolutely no sense as far as carbon reduction goes.
To get people out of their cars, we need MORE PARKING AT BART, NOT LESS PARKING.
There are approaches available to us that will help solve the problem but they are being ignored. If Berkeley is serious about fixing climate change the City government needs to be willing to listen to people who have solutions, even if they have not donated heavily to the political campaigns of City Council members.
If I am missing somethiing here, please explain to me what it is.

Updated: Special SHORTER EDITION of UC Berkeley's latest environmental impact report is released!

Doug Buckwald
Saturday May 11, 2019 - 11:04:00 PM

You may already know that UC Berkeley is in the planning stage for a large new development at Hearst Avenue and La Loma Avenue, in the northeast corner of campus. The Campus is also attempting to justify its current enrollment of 42,519 full-time students, which is 44% over the baseline 1998 campus enrollment -- far over the anticipated 13% increase stipulated in the University's 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). 

The UC Capital Projects office has released the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (FSEIR) for this project. This final report includes the University's responses to the hundreds of individuals in the community and the Berkeley City government who submitted comments about the proposal. 

For readers who may not have time to read the complete environmental impact report, here is the abridged version (with some unnecessary content and technical data omitted): 


UC Regents  

Upper Hearst Project Final SEIR 

Page 1 of 1 



Upper Hearst Development for the Goldman School of Public Policy 

Hearst Avenue and La Loma Avenue, Berkeley, CA 

Section 1.0 Environmental Impacts and Mitigations 

Careful examination has led the University to set a new standard for evaluating the environmental impacts resulting from the unprecedented campus population growth and the major construction projects planned for Upper Hearst: 

There are no environmental impacts because there is no longer an environment. We own everything. 

Section 2.0 Campus Enrollment 

The University acknowledges that it went far over its original campus population projections. Our solution is to designate the wildly-inflated new enrollment figure as the revised "baseline" for campus enrollment: 42,519 full-time students. This will allow us to increase our enrollment to 45,000 students -- or even 50,000 students -- in the near future without any additional environmental review.  

The University wants the public to understand that this increase came as a big surprise to us because we have no discretion or control over population growth. This is simply a biological fact of life according to researchers in our Cell & Developmental Biology Department. Further questions about this issue should be directed to this Department. 

Section 3.0 Responses to Questions and Comments from the Public 

The answer to all questions and comments is: NO. 

Section 4.0 A Message from the Regents 

The Regents of the University of California wish to express their gratitude to City officials and community members in Berkeley for their invaluable participation in this broad and inclusive effort to ensure that all stakeholders' views are heard and incorporated into the final project design.  

We pledge to continue to work closely with the City and its residents to enhance the trust and goodwill that form the basis of our successful cooperation. We will all be able to take great pride in the final result of this process: the creation of high-quality new facilities that will attract even greater numbers of students to our ever-growing campus.  

Because housing will remain scarce for the foreseeable future, the University would appreciate it if as many current Berkeley residents as possible would move out of their homes and apartments so that their living spaces can be turned over this fall to our new incoming students.  

Also, before you depart, please make sure that your residence is fully stocked with food and household supplies, and that you have provided a reliable means of transportation. Remember that most of our new students will be coming here from out of state, so they will be unable to bring these things with them. We should all strive to be good hosts, as these new students are truly honored guests in our community.  

Plus, because each out-of-state student pays much higher tuition and fees, each one represents more money for the University to address our severe structural debt problems resulting from the ill-advised reconstruction of Memorial Stadium and the athletic training center right on top of the Hayward Fault. What were we thinking? 

Taking into account the debt servicing for these projects, the total expenditures could approach more than $1,000,000,000 (that is, $1 billion). Gosh! Perhaps we should declare 50,000 as the new enrollment baseline and expand upwards from there. What noticeable difference could 30,000 or 40,000 additional new students make? 


Note: The article above is meant to be humorous, but the issue is serious. 

There is still time to submit comments to the UC Regents about the proposed Upper Hearst construction projects and the proposed increase in campus baseline population. However, the meeting where the Regents will consider these items will take place this week from May 14 - 16, so you need to do this very soon. 

How to submit remarks by email: 

1) The email address to submit these comments is: regentsoffice@ucop.edu.  

2) Put this phrase in your subject line: Upper Hearst Project, UC Berkeley 

3) Even a brief note expressing your opinion is fine. 

4) If you want to make sure that your comments will be forwarded to the Regents before the meeting begins, you must submit them before 2 PM on Monday, May 13. 

5) If you want to make sure that your comments will be part of the official record, you should submit them as soon as possible and not after 9 AM on Thursday, May 16

How to make oral comments during the Regents meeting: 

There will be two public comment periods: 

a) Wednesday, May 15, beginning at 8:30 AM and  

b) Thursday, May 16, beginning at approximately 9 AM or 10 AM (depending on when the Regents' closed session ends). 

If you plan to speak, you should call Anne Shaw at (510) 987-9302 and sign up in advance. There are already a number of people on the speaker's list, so do this as soon as possible. Anne Shaw is the Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents. 

For further information about written or oral comments, here is a link to the Regents' website: 


Police and Home Security Cameras

Jack Bragen
Wednesday May 15, 2019 - 05:19:00 PM



I happened to be innocently watching television news. I was very unsettled when the news blithely reported that coming now, police will have access to your living room. You know the great home security cameras installed by Xfinity and others, marketed to keep us safe from all the boogeymen? Police are hooking up to that. The television news reported as a good thing, that everybody will be safe from all of the threats of burglars and so on. But I ask you, who is going to keep us safe from the abuses of the police departments? This new thing is right out of George Orwell's 1984, and I thought naively that it would never happen. It has begun. For now, this is "voluntary." Yet, we are only a couple of stepstones away from the ominous television that sees and hears everything we do. Will they have access to our bedrooms and bathrooms? Will they someday have access to all of our thoughts? No doubt, in the not too distant future, this new surveillance will become mandated by law, but "only to keep us safe." After all, we must be protected from all the boogeymen! 

Comments for Berkeley City Council Special Meeting on North Berkeley BART Development

Harvey Smith
Sunday May 12, 2019 - 06:41:00 PM

My fellow North Berkeley Neighborhood Alliance neighbors have raised many important issues about the development of the North Berkeley BART station. I agree with many of their observations about the one-size-fits-all plans of BART for our unique, totally residential BART station neighborhood. 

However, in the interest of equity and spreading the benefits of Transit Oriented Development (TOD), I’d like to view the broader context and suggest a project that would bring the benefits of development to another area of Berkeley. This idea came to me when I noticed that there’s a seven-story development slated for the Goodyear Tire store on Martin Luther King near University. I realized people in Berkeley are going to stop using their cars and will be taking bicycles and Uber and Lyft from the Berkeley Hills to the North Berkeley BART so no need for parking there and no need for tire stores, gas stations or auto repair in Berkeley. The folks in the gig economy can get their autos repaired wherever they come from. 

Taking this further I thought of the transportation corridor along Highway 13 and the unnecessary gas station and auto repair shop across the street from each other and close to the Claremont Hotel. Why not spread the benefits of TOD to that neighborhood? I’m certain UC Regent and mega real estate mogul Richard C. Blum and his wife, Senator Dianne Feinstein, would not mind some development near their hotel. Just the kind of development that would have been enabled if Blum’s real estate company had sold the Downtown Berkeley Post Office. We all know high rise development brings “vibrancy” to any neighborhood. 

Now envision this. Two glitzy towers of at least ten stories, but perhaps up to 18, would not dwarf the Claremont. These LEED certified, market rate apartments would have wonderful views of the Bay and the tennis matches at the Berkeley Tennis Club. Of course, we’ll throw in a few low-income and affordable apartments on the lower floors, with a separate entrance, to sweeten the deal. 

Between the two towers would be hung a permanent sign reading “Welcome to the City of Berkeley and Ohlone Territory.” After all, what could be more fitting? I mean saving open, green space like the Shellmound and People’s Park is so ground level, so non-residential. A high rise sign would signify Berkeley is going up and up and up. 

Harvey Smith has been a Berkeley resident since 1966. He is the author of Berkeley and the New Deal.

Press Release: Consider the Homeless! Announces a Candlelight March, an Overnight Vigil and Memorial For Berkeley’s Departed Homeless Residents

Barbara Brust
Sunday May 12, 2019 - 06:30:00 PM

Berkeley: Consider the Homeless! (CTH), an organization devoted to alleviating the suffering of Berkeley’s homeless - our brothers and sisters who are living and sleeping on the streets of our fair city - will be sponsoring a candlelight march on Tuesday evening, May 14th, from Berkeley’s City Council Meeting at 1231 Addison, beginning at 7:30 PM, to New City Hall at 2180 Milvia. 

CtTH is aware of at least eight of our unhoused neighbors who have died in the last twelve months, but you would never know these deaths occur because the County Coroner keeps no tally, and the press is most often silent. 

After the march an overnight vigil will be held on the steps of New City Hall, 2180 Milvia, dedicated to all of these individuals, followed by a memorial ceremony with speakers at 12:00 Noon on May 15th at the same location. 

Barbara Brust, one of CTH’s volunteers and its founder and director, said: 

"I saw NOTHING in the papers about three of the people I’ve known on the streets who died recently, and am sadly reminded that officially, there is NO count of how many un-housed die every year. None of these have had any street vigil nor memorial! Consider The Homeless! intends to correct this oversight.” 

Contact: Barbara Brust: 510.717.0181, barbara@ConsiderTheHomeless.org
Consider The Homeless! http://www.considerthehomeless.org/ 


Why We Will March on Tuesday

Barbara Brust
Sunday May 12, 2019 - 06:33:00 PM

A few days ago I heard of Eric Sibbald’s death… He was one of the resident’s of the old 9th St. Shelter, and one that we interviewed while trying to save it. You can watch it on FB at https://www.facebook.com/ConsiderTheHomeless/videos/453801608448409/ 

Eric was lucky enough to get one of the few spaces that were available for the 9th St. Shelter’s residents. The reduced size was only capable of sheltering one-half of what they were able to do on 9th St. Last week, an ambulance was called to the new Vet Bldg Shelter, as Eric was having another heart attack. Eric died at the hospital. 

Sadly, he was one of three residents I had met while on this campaign to Save The Shelter that have died since shelter moved to ½ capacity. 

Last month I was informed that Frank Bomba died. I did not interview Frank but knew him as one of the un-housed workers at the shelter. When 9th St. Shelter closed, he lost the job there, and ended up back on the streets battling his personal demons. Sometime, in April of 2019, Frank lost that battle and died of an overdose. 

Another guest at the old 9th St. Shelter that I had the opportunity to meet and interview was Mary Evans and her husband , David. Both were sick, and in need of regular care. At the time, Mary was doing a series of kemo trearments and was worried about what they would do after the shelter closed. Both Mary and her husband were also lucky enough to get space to remain with the Dorothy Say House Shelter when it moved to the Vet Bldg. I am not sure of the circumstances of Mary’s death, I only know she crossed over in February 2019. 

I saw NOTHING in the papers about these three friends and am sadly reminded that officially, there is NO count of how many un-housed die every year.

I spoke with our Board and was granted permission to have a MEMORIAL/VIGIL for all I can find that have died in Berkeley in the last 12 months. I already know of FIVE more. Many CTH Volunteers will remember KK… died June 2018, and Michelle Larson, died October 2018. Some may remember hearing about Lisa Blowers, found dead on Telegraph Ave with her wheelchair and her dog back in May 2018, about a week after her encampment was raided…. About a month later, her partner RICHARD died. I have also heard that within the last month a woman was found dead in her tent, her name was MELINDA, I am gathering more details on her.

Consider The Homeless! will correct this oversight.

CANDLELIGHT MARCH from City Council meeting Tuesday, May 14th to Civic Center (time TBA)
VIGIL Civic Center steps until MEMORIAL Wednesday, May 15th at NOON with speakers and the press. 


Contact me to help or for more information. Barbara Brust 510-717-0181, Barbara@ConsiderTheHomeless.org 

Report of Armed Man at Berkeley's King School Was False

Becky O'Malley
Friday May 10, 2019 - 01:26:00 PM

The Planet has been contacted by the family of the King Middle School student whose experience with bullying precipitated an uproar yesterday on the school site. Before it was over, it brought numerous Berkeley police with drawn guns to a locked down campus, responding to a report that a suspect with a gun had been sighted. This turned out not to be true, according to a family member familiar with the situation (who asked that her name not be used because of fear of reprisals) who called the Planet on the family’s behalf this morning.

She told us that the child in question, an 11-year-old boy, had recently moved to this area. He is a small special needs student, with problems including seizures and tics which he can’t control. He has experienced several episodes of being beaten up by fellow students since he entered King, which have been reported to school administrators, but, as reported by his relative, “there were no consequences”. She says that these instances have been recorded on video.

By her account, yet another such incident was reported on Thursday, which prompted the boy’s mother, accompanied by two other family friends, to go to the school to see if he needed their help, since school administrators had not been able to stop the bullying. One of these friends, an African-American young man with dreadlocks, was the person reported—it’s not clear by whom—to be in possession of a gun, which turned out not to be true, despite reports in local media to the contrary.

Yesterday’s Berkeley Police Department press release, reprinted in the Planet, described “a report of a man armed with a handgun” and said that “the suspect… appears to be a parent or caregiver of a student.”

The Police Department release said that “ witnesses described the suspect as a 20- to 30-year-old black male, 5’7” tall, with a medium build and long “twisty” braids. He was reportedly wearing a white hooded top, and blue jeans.”

Our contact said that when the family friend who matched that description learned that he’d been accused of carrying a gun onto a school site, he voluntarily went to the Berkeley Police and told them what had actually happened. As a result, no charges of any kind have been filed about the incident.

It’s possible that the panicky response of students and administrators might have been caused by stereotypical views of a young Black man with dreads and a hoodie, ironic in that recent school shooters have overwhelmingly been White.

Family members of the 11-year-old bullying victim are still not satisfied with the school’s lack of success in ending the attacks.  

“We want to see some consequences for these kids,” our source said.  

She said that she was a 35-year Berkeley citizen, and another relative was a recently retired longtime BUSD employee, and that they’d encouraged the child’s immediate family to move here from another state because they hoped he’d get more help from the Berkeley schools.  

The Planet has not been able to contact school authorities for comment. 

Calls to Berkeley Police Officer Byron White, supposed to be BPD’s press contact, have not been returned. 




SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday May 11, 2019 - 11:53:00 AM

People's Park Anniversary Marked with a New Book

Berkeley-based Heyday Books has created a massive 50th anniversary tribute to the people and events surrounding the creation of People's Park, and recalling its bloody and brutal seizure by armed police, the helicopter tear-gassing of Berkeley during the National Guard occupation, and the eventual nonviolent liberation and reclamation of the park.

Heyday Books will host a special book-release party from 7-9PM at the Art House Gallery and Cultural Center (2905 Shattuck) on Saturday, May 11. On Wednesday, May 15, Heyday will stage a Peoples Park "Teach-in" from 7-9PM at the David Brower Center (2150 Allston Way). Speakers will include the book's editor, Tom Dalzell, and a host of activists involved in the battle for People's Park including—Michael Delacourt, Judy Gumbo, Ruth Rosen, Donovan Rundle, Dove Sholom Scherr, Jane Scherr, Dan Siegel, and Nacio Jan Brown. The event will be moderated by Steve Wasserman. Mayor Jesse Arreguin will be a featured speaker. (Note: some community members critical of the mayor's policies toward the homeless have signaled plans to be outside protesting "possibly as early as 6.") The Brower Center event is free but reservations are required. Contact Emmerich Anklam at Heyday Books.

People's Park 50th Anniversary Commemorations 

On Wednesday, May 15, the People's Park Committee invites the community to meet in front at Dwight and Telegraph in memory of Bloody Thursday, which took place May 15th 50 years ago. 


Berkeley Hosts Annual Peace Flag Event on May 15 

Members of the War Resisters' League, Courage to Resist, Vietnam Veterans for Peace and Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission will host a public commemoration to honor anti-war activists past and present. The yearly Conscientious Objectors' Day will feature a raising of the peace flag on Milvia near Allston, in front of City Hall. The celebration runs from11:30-12:30 and will feature singers Nancy Schimmel and Max Ventura leading a chorus of peace ballads including "Ain't Gonna Study War No More" and the Phil Ochs' standard, "I Ain't Marching Anymore." Song sheets provided. 

The Aeroflot Syndrome 

Two horrific stories hit the news last week and they shared a chilling connection. First, an alarming United Nations report warned that 1 million species on planet Earth are on the brink of extinction because of human activity. The second was a report from Moscow detailing the horrifying crash of a Russian Aeroflot passenger jet that erupted in a flaming fireball as it careened down a runway. 

While the image of the damaged jet, half-consumed by flames was terrifying, there were other images that were even more nightmarish: scenes of passengers escaping down the evacuation slides—grasping their handbags and luggage. 

It's hard to accept but it's essential to grasp what this means: passengers in the front of the plane were more concerned about saving their possessions then they were about saving the lives of the people burning to death in the seats behind them. 

What does this say about our ability to respond to climate change and the mass-extinction of life on this planet? It says: We're doomed. 

While some humans are capable of exceptional acts of heroism—like the two young students who sacrificed their lives in an attempt to disarm campus gunmen—the majority appear to be more devoted to their material comforts and digital playthings than to any living thing in the world around them. 

Good-bye "Climate Change" 

Back in February, Andrew Kimbrell, an environmental lawyer and executive director of The International Center for Technology Assessment, posted a think piece called "Say Goodbye to Climate Change." Kimbrell argued that it was time to dispense with "the lame term 'climate change' (which was invented by a Republican PR operative)." In 2003, Kimbrell explained, GOP publicist Frank Luntz circulated a private memo proposing that growing public alarm over "global warming" could be side-tracked by substituting the phrase "climate change" to suggest "a more controllable and less emotional challenge." 

Now, Kimbrell argues, we need even more alarming and galvanizing terms to describe the potentially terminal threats facing the planet. Panic-inducing phrases like: "Nuclear Holocaust," "The Plague," "Acid Rain," and "Bioengineered Pandemics." Kimbrell suggests "Climate Chaos (or perhaps Climate Destabilization for those more academically inclined)." It appears that Kimbrell is not alone. 

Notes from Nader, McKibben and Hawkin 

On May 3, Ralph Nader picked up on Kimbrell's theme. In a short essay titled "An Open Letter to the Environmental Community," Nader argued: "It's time to change the words to meet the peril!" Nader's suggestions included: Climate Crisis, Climate Disruption, Climate Catastrophe, Climate Upheaval "or even 'Global Warming'." 

Environmental activist and author Bill McKibben already has adopted the graver term, "Climate Chaos," while author/activist Paul Hawken prefers the phrase "Climate Volatility." 

Kimbrell concluded his essay by inviting one and all to "join the Nomenclature Revolt and pick and use your favorite powerful term that appropriately depicts the dire crisis we face." Kimbrell wrapped up with a favored phrase created by anti-corporate crusader Richard Grossman who characterized our planetary peril as: “Toxic Furnace Syndrome.”  

In response, I emailed Kimbrell the following: 

Agreed: no more "climate change." (Dealing with the Bio-backlash of human misbehavior is not going to be as easy as changing clothes, changing cash, or changing TV channels.) It's hard to match "Toxic Furnace Syndrome," but here are some other options: Climate Collapse. Climate Calamity. Climageddon.
And this is more than just the climate. It's Planetary Extermination. Global Annihilation. Terracide.

Time for a Change on Climate Change 

Climate change has emerged as a leading issue for Democrats in the 2020 election. Presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee, Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders all have produced programs to address the climate crisis. 

Because of the existential threat of global warming and extreme weather, citizens action groups are calling for a special presidential debate devoted exclusively to the issue of climate chaos. Toward this end, the Action Network has created a petition demanding that the Democratic National Committee host a formal "Climate Debate." 

So far, Elizabeth Warren appears to be the front-runner on the climate front, having declared that, if elected, on Day One she would sign an executive order halting all fossil fuel drilling on our public lands.  


Heroes of the House 

In a rare and welcome display of homegrown anti-imperialism, Congress has introduced a resolution (H.R.1004) to block Trump/Bolton/Pompeo from ordering US troops to invade South America. The "Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela Act" was introduced by Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI-1) and now has 71 co-sponsors. Proud to report that 17 of the sponsors are from California. They include Barbara Lee, Ro Khanna, Anna Eschoo, Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters, and Jackie Speier (who signed up on May 9). 

Democracy Activists Trapped inside Venezuelan Embassy 

In a recent dispatch from Washington's embattled Venezuelan Embassy, World BEYOND War founder David Swanson revealed another classic Trump policy hypocrisy. Not so long ago, Trump argued that the elected government of Venezuela needed to be overthrown "because it wouldn’t allow in humanitarian aid." Now, in an attempt to expel a community of peace activists (including members of Codepink, Popular Resistance, and the ANSWER Coalition) legally occupying the embassy at the invitation of the elected Venezuelan government, the US government has deployed the FBI, the Secret Service, and local police to facilitate a siege of the building, preventing food and medicine from reaching members of the self-declared Embassy Protection Collective. And now, the government has ordered that all water and electricity to the building be shut off. 

DC Police Abetting Pro-Coup Demonstrators 

Lawyers for the Collective have filed complains accusing police and security personnel of ignoring crimes committed by anti-Maduro demonstrators while targeting nonviolent protesters for arrest. The pro-coup crowd has assaulted the occupiers and their supporters with verbal insults, threats, physical attacks, eye-blinding strobe lights, and blasts of high-volume air-horns. 

A week ago, when a 70-year-old supporter attempted to deliver a supply of toothbrushes to the Collective, he was pushed to the ground and beaten unconscious while the crowd mocked him. 

Earlier this week, CODEPINK activist Ariel Gold was arrested for trying to toss vegetables to hungry activists in Embassy's upper-floor windows. Gold was arrested and charged with "throwing a missile at a building." 

The next day, Veterans for Peace president Gerry Condon was busted for trying to throw a cucumber to Popular Resistance activist Kevin Zeese, who was leaning out of a second-floor window. 

The Vietnam War vet was grabbed by police, roughed-up, thrown on the ground, punched, and left bleeding from a large wound on his head. One of his friends reported that Condon had been accused of throwing "a cucumber of mass destruction." Even more disturbing, while videos of Condon's arrest showed that he did not resist the officers. Nonetheless, he was charged with "assault" and "resisting arrest" before being rushed to a local hospital. 

From Kevin Zeese, inside the Embassy. (May 9: 5:41 AM): 

Our hope is the Venezuela embassy becomes a galvanizing moment for the movement and hundreds, then thousands and tens of thousands show up to support us. Over the coming days, our batteries will die and we will be silent. We will still be here, depending on our allies outside. 

Rage Against War? 

Militarism has not only infiltrated our language but the macho threat of force has even become embedded in the imagery of the peace movement.  

A recent example: an anti-nuclear campaign poster that prominently displays a clenched fist (a cliche so common it goes unnoticed) alongside another graphic that shows someone physically ripping apart a weapon. The message on the peace poster read: "Rage Against War." 

There are alternatives. Instead of a fist ready to deliver a powerful blow, how about two fingers spread in a peace sign? Instead of showing the bare-handed physical destruction of a weapon, how about a simple negation symbol (the slash-within-a-circle) stamped over the weapon, or a sign reading "abolished"? 

Instead of invoking “Rage”, how about inviting peace activists to "Resist" war? Rage can be a useful fuel for social change, but only when anger at injustice is channeled into constructive nonviolent action. To quote Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.:  

"It is purposeless to tell Negroes they should not be enraged when they should be. Indeed, they will be mentally healthier if they do not suppress rage, but vent it constructively and use its energy peacefully but forcefully to cripple the operations of an oppressive society. Civil disobedience can utilize the militance wasted in riots.”  

A Bill to End Trump's "War Orphan Tax" 

A previous Smithereens column mentioned how Trump's tax plan cut corporate taxes by nearly a third (from 35% to 21%) while nearly quadrupling the tax on some military families. Gold Star Families—families of soldiers killed "in service"—receive "survivor benefits" from the government. And these payments are considered taxable income. In order to offset the billions lost to tax-cuts for the One Percent, Trump introduced a so-called "Kiddie Tax" that jacked up the tax on income assigned to Gold Star war orphans from 10% to 40%. Now, freshman Congresswoman Elaine Luria hopes to help these families with a bill that would return the tax on survivors' benefits to the previous, lower rate. VoteVets has created a petition asking Congress to pass a law to reduce the egregious tax that Gold Star families are being asked to pay on the "income" of "survivor benefits." The bill reportedly enjoys broad bipartisan support. 

DeTweet Trump 

Twitter has long been Donald Trump's Trumpet and many people have been wondering whether Trump's tweeted insults, denigrations, and threats are even legal. After all, under Twitter Law, fomenting violence against one's perceived enemies would appear to be a violation of Twitter's content protocols. 

Twitter’s rules stipulate that the company's administrators “do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse”—including direct or indirect violent threats, harassment, or hateful conduct.  

Many of Trump’s tweets (which have included threatens to incinerate North Korea "with fire and fury") constitute blatant violations of Twitter’s Terms of Service. Trump has retweeted provocative images of journalists being assaulted and has promoted xenophobia, misogyny, and Islamophobia—including tweets that seemed designed to invite attacks on Ilhan Omar, a Democratic member of Congress. Finally, a new petition has been launched demanding that Twitter finally do what millions of Americans have been praying for: "Kick Trump off Twitter." Tell Twitter and Facebook it's time to make Trump respect the rules or give him the boot, a la Alex Jones. 


Conn Hallinan
Friday May 10, 2019 - 04:34:00 PM

There were several lessons to take from last month’s Spanish elections, some special to Spain, others that resonate continent wide. Since the 28-member European Union is preparing to vote on the makeup of the European Parliament at the end of May, those lessons are relevant. 

On the surface the outcome seemed pretty straightforward: Spain’s Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) picked up lots of seats—but not enough to form a government—the country’s traditional center-right Popular Party (PP) took a pounding, the ultra-right edged into parliament and the center did well. 

But Spain’s politics are as complex as the country’s geography, and certainly not as simple as the New York Time’s analysis that the outcome was a “strong pro-European Union vote” that will allow Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez “to tackle Spain’s neglected economic challenges.” 

For starters, the majority did not vote for the EU, but, to the contrary, against the devastation the huge trading bloc has inflicted on Spain through a decade of austerity measures. The Spanish Socialists ran on a platform of jobs creation, implementing a US-inspired “Green New Deal,” a 22 percent jump in the minimum wage and greater funding for education and science, all issues that run counter to the tight-fisted policies of the EU. 

Indeed, if the European Union had been on the ballot it might have gone badly for Brussels, not exactly a Spexit, but hardly a ringing endorsement. 

Part of the Socialist victory reflected the profound ineptness of the opposition on the right. 

For more than 40 years, the Popular Party has been an umbrella for the Spanish right, ranging from conservative businessmen and small farmers to unreconstructed supporters of the fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. But when the left-wing Podemos Party won 20 percent of the vote in 2015, it unleashed centrifugal forces that smashed up the old two-party system that had dominated the country since the death of Franco in 1975. 

Besides opening the political landscape to multiple parties, including the center right Ciudadanos , or “Citizens” Party, it put immeasurable strains on the Socialist and Popular parties. 

In the case of the latter, the PP’s extreme right jumped ship and formed “Vox,” whose policies are little different than Franco’s: opposition to abortion, equal rights for women, gay rights, immigration, and regional autonomy. The Party won almost 11 percent of the vote in a recent election in Andalusia, Spain’s most populous province. It is currently part of the province’s ruling coalition, which includes the PP and Citizens, but underperformed in last month’ vote. 

The PP’s turn to the right as a strategy to peel off Vox votes was a disaster. Women, in particular, felt threatened by some of the Party’s anti-abortion talk, and the PP’s candidates handpicked by Party leader Pablo Casado were underwhelming. 

The Socialists also had their divisions. In 2016 the PSOE’s rightwing engineered the ouster of Sanchez after he considered forming a government with Podemos and several small regional parties. The rightwing of the Socialists then allowed the PP to form a minority government, a move that did not sit well with the Party’s rank and file. 

Sanchez barnstormed the country, rallying the Socialist’s left wing and taking back the Party’s leadership seven months later. In this last election the PSOE stayed united, a major reason why Sanchez is in a position to form a government. 

Was the election a victory for the center? There is not a lot of evidence for that. While Citizens did well—it bypassed Unidos-Podemos to become the third largest party in the parliament with 57 seats—most of its votes came from former PP members alienated by the Popular Party’s sharp turn to the right and the profound corruption that has enmeshed many of its leaders. 

The PP, Citizens and Vox all pounded away at the Catalan independence movement and immigration, two issues that did not resonate very strongly with the electorate. A poll by Spain’s Centre for Sociological Research showed that voters were most concerned with unemployment (61.8 percent), corruption (33.3 percent) and the state of the political parties (29.1 percent). Only 8.9 percent felt immigration was a major issue, and Catalan independence was a concern for only 11 percent. 

In short, when the right was railing away at the Catalans and immigrants, most of the voters tuned out. 

The leftist UP also took a beating, dropping from 71 to 42 seats, but that was partly due to a falling out between the two major Podemos leaders, Pablo Iglesias and Inigo Errejon, and disagreements on how closely the leftist alliance should align itself with the Socialists. In contrast, the leftwing Catalan parties did well. 

The Socialists now face two major problems. 

First, there is the PSOE’s program that, if instituted, would certainly ease the austerity policies of the EU and the PP that have inflicted such pain on the bulk of Spaniards. While unemployment has come down from its height during the years following the 2008 financial crash, many of those jobs are low paying, benefit-free, temporary gigs. 

A Green New Deal would confront climate change and create new jobs. Repairing the social safety net that the PP and the EU have shredded would not only make people’s lives easier, it would stimulate the economy. 

But the EU is pressing for almost $28 billion in government spending cuts, that, if agreed to, would make much of the Socialists’ program stillborn. Faced with the demands of capital, on one hand, and the misery of yet more austerity, many socialist parties—with the exception of Britain’s and Portugal’s—have gone along with the strictures of the EU. 

When they do, they pay the price: center-left parties all over Europe have been decimated for buying into the debt reduction strategy of the EU. Socialist parties tend to run from the left and govern from the center, but if Sanchez does that, the Party’s support will evaporate. 

Secondly, there is the Catalan problem. While Sanchez has pledged to open a dialogue with the Catalans, he has steadfastly refused to consider their demand for a referendum on independence. The Socialist leader argues that he is constrained by the Spanish constitution that explicitly forbids provinces from seceding. But the constitution was drawn up only a few years after Franco’s death and is deeply flawed on a number of different levels, including giving rural regions greater representation than urban areas. 

The refusal of Sanchez to consider a referendum makes “dialogue” an empty phrase. It is not even clear if the majority of Catalans would vote for independence, although the policies of Madrid—in particular the brutal crushing of a referendum effort this past October, and the arrest and imprisonment of Catalan leaders—certainly seems to have increased separatist sentiment. In the recent election Catalan independence parties won a majority in the Provence. 

Sanchez may try to construct a coalition without the Catalan parties, which would be a major mistake. Many of the Catalan parties are more simpatico to the PSOE on economic and social matters than some of the other regional parties the Socialists will try to recruit to form a government. And, as the recent election showed, people want some answers to their economic problems. 

The Socialists will certainly be attacked by the right if they allow a referendum, but the PP labeled them “terrorists” in this last election and the majority of voters didn’t buy it. The referendum could require a super majority—maybe 60 percent—to pass, because it would be folly to take the province out of Spain on the basis of a narrow win. 

But the Catalan question cannot be dispersed with tear gas, billy clubs or prisons, and constitutions are not immutable documents. 

For European parties on the center-left, Spain’s elections had a message: the old days of campaigning on left social democracy when you’re running for office and ruling with careful centrism once you get into power are over. People want answers. 


Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and middleemiresereies.wordpress.com 







THE PUBLIC EYE:Donald Trump and the Measles Epidemic

Bob Burnett
Friday May 10, 2019 - 04:22:00 PM

On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States and many Americans were hopeful. We were in the throes of "the great recession" but we trusted Obama to guide us out of it. We'd elected our first biracial President and many of us hoped that racism would soon be gone. By the way, the U.S. was thought to free of measles -- there were only 131 cases of circulating measles reported in 2008.

Things have changed. Donald Trump is the 45th President. Although the economy is good, two-thirds of Americans are pessimistic about the future. Racism is back -- White Supremacists threaten domestic security. And there's a measles epidemic; so far, 764 cases of measles have been reported in 2019 (https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html).

The social and mental attributes that characterize Donald Trump have promoted the measles epidemic. These same conditions have produced other epidemics, such as opiod addiction, Hepatitis A, and gun violence. 

1.Critical Thinking: Donald Trump is not a deep thinker. He's hardly the first President with this characteristic -- most of us remember George W. Bush. But Trump is the first President to flaunt his lack of perspicacity. He revels in the notion that he shoots from the hit and makes no effort to learn from his mistakes -- he doesn't even acknowledge his mistakes. 

I don't believe that Trump is stupid -- although he says and does stupid things -- but rather lazy. He does not read the many reports brought to him but instead relies upon verbal briefings from a small set of advisors and the rantings of sources like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. 

Trump also lacks impulse control. He'll see a news item scroll across the bottom of the screen and immediately fire off a Tweet, treating the chyron as legitimate news. 

Trump has no depth. He's a creature of the moment and, therefore, incapable of the thoughtful analysis that leaders typically display when they encounter complex problems. Thus, the North Korea situation is reduced to "Kim likes me." 

Many of the parents who refuse to vaccinate their children share Trump's characteristic lack of critical thinking. 

2.Social Media as a news source: Donald Trump is the first President to treat social media as a legitimate news source. In this regards, he's like many Americans who do not get their news reports from conventional newspapers (books or magazines) but instead rely upon television, the Internet, or radio. (a 2018 Pew Research study (https://deadline.com/2018/12/how-americans-watch-news-study-tv-online-pew-research-center-1202512745/ ) found that 44 percent of respondents got their news from TV, 34 percent got their news from the Internet, 14 percent got their news from radio, and 7 percent read newspapers.) 

Trump gets his news from Fox News, his Twitter correspondence, and to a lesser extent from Facebook -- he occasionally uses Instagram. (It appears that he uses the Internet to access certain websites such as Alex Jones' infowars.) He gets his news predigested. 

As a result, Trump has a strange set of beliefs. For example, he believes that most Mexican and Central American refugees coming to the southern border are "criminals" or worse. Trump believes that Arab-Americans cheered the 9/11 attack; for this reason he thinks Muslims hate us and should not be allowed to enter the U.S. Donald describes Vladimir Putin as a "great leader" and believes that reports of Russian interference of 2016 are a "hoax." Trump thinks NATO is "a ripoff." Finally, he does not believe that global climate change is a crisis; recently he minimized it as "weather" but not so long ago described it a hoax. 

A couple of years ago, Trump tweeted there was a link between childhood vaccination and autism. (However, on April 26th, in response to the measles epidemic, Trump changed his tune and urged families to vaccinate their children, "they have to get their shots.") 

Many parents, who have not allowed their children to be vaccinated, share the (one time) belief of Donald Trump that childhood inoculations increases the likelihood of autism. Who knows how many of these have been influenced by Trump and from obtaining their "science" information from social media. 

3.Selfishness. Donald Trump is a profoundly selfish person; he only cares about taking care of himself, and his family. As President, he seems to have no concern for "the common good" or actions that will serve "the best interests of the country." When making a decision, his guiding principle is "what's in it for me?" (For example, Trump continues to support the treacherous Saudi regime that murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi because the Trump family has business interests in Saudi Arabia.) 

Of course, parents who fail to vaccinate their children are also profoundly selfish; they care only about their "intellectual position" and not the health and safety of their children or other members of the community who might be exposed to measles. 

Summary: Donald Trump didn't cause the measles epidemic but his profound character defects -- lack of critical thinking, addiction to social media, and pathological selfishness -- have made it worse. And Trump's deficiencies have worsened other epidemics such as opiod addiction, Hepatitis A, and gun violence. Trump's a menace to our health and safety. 

Therefore, House Democrats have to work doubly hard: get after Trump and, at the same time, generate meaningful legislation. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Belief Compliance isn't Needed

Jack Bragen
Friday May 10, 2019 - 04:29:00 PM

A psychiatrist once said he thought consciousness could be an illusion. The same psychiatrist, or perhaps a different one, said that either you believe in human psychic ability or you don't. He was implying that it didn't exist and that it was a superstition. I responded by saying that a person could be uncertain about it and could think that maybe it exists. Begrudgingly, he acknowledged that, probably in the absence of a good argument to the contrary. 

It seems that doctors are often atheists who disbelieve in anything that can't be proven with science. Atheism is also a religion. Medicine is partly a cult, the basic belief being that the human body and mind are inherently in need of continuous repair. The second assumption in medicine is that the human body and mind are mere machines and should be dealt with as such. 

"Telepathy" or something like it, occurs in all human interactions. When someone speaks in a tone that conveys an emotion, such as anger or love, what do you think allows people to interpret that? Human beings continuously exchange energy. Modern science is not modern enough to explain human experiences. Modern science doesn't explain how it is that we exist. 

My father once said, "Schizophrenia is an illness that you cannot think away." Science has its uses. Yet science is not applicable to most of the things that people deal with and experience. 

Science has allowed people to develop atomic energy. But it hasn't figured out a way to prevent us from wiping ourselves out through atomic energy. Why can't people get along? Answer: people aren't rational. 

A quote of Ram Dass, from memory of one of his books (I can't find the exact quote on the internet): "My brother believed he was Jesus. His psychiatrist believed he was a psychiatrist." Psychiatrists know how to prescribe medications that allow some people with mental illness to barely get by. They also have legal authorities and obligations. Psychiatrists are necessary. However, they aren't omniscient, even when they believe they are. 

Mental health treatment could stand some improvement. We are still in the Dark Ages of mental health treatment. I became permanently medication compliant in 1996, and I have not had a full relapse since then. At the time I made this commitment (voluntarily) it was because, firstly, I believed I might not survive any more psychotic episodes, secondly, my parents were getting too old to help me when I was in a relapse, and thirdly, I realized I needed to get serious about treating my condition. 

However, I do not have to share every belief and disbelief of psychiatrists and psychologists. It is okay to think for myself, including disagreeing with some amount of the line that psychiatrists and other medical practitioners offer. To defer complete authority to mental health treatment professionals over one's thoughts will not help me. Medication compliance is fine. However, total belief compliance isn't needed or advisable. 

In modern times, few people speak any more of the human aura, of energy, or of the chakras. Society has excluded the New Age Spirituality that flourished in the 1980's. In the 1990's, I went to the Berkeley Psychic Institute, and I even saw the founder in person a year or two before he passed away. His name was Lewis Bostwick. 

BPI was very validating much of the time. They either helped me or made me worse, I don't know which. However, the concept that human beings have an energy field is not new. 

Damaging events and experiences do more to shut down the higher faculties than does psychiatric medication. When someone in your environment is excessively controlling and/or demanding, such as someone with narcissistic personality disorder, you are robbed of the ability to get the personal space, to think, and to process. When you are exposed to an excessive number of doctors, and excessive medical appointments, it makes you sicker. Doctors haven't figured out a way to make a sick person well, with some important exceptions. 

Giving an antibiotic for syphilis and vaccinations for polio and numerous other prevalent diseases have been milestones that have bettered the human condition in developed countries. 

However, managing chronic conditions so that a very sick person can live a bit longer and in poor health, while this is a big moneymaker for the medical industry, does not serve people very well. I get that people don't want to die before they have to. I don't want to. But there has to be some kind of quality of life for people. 

My main point is: The mechanical model of the human body and mind, ascribed to by most psychiatrists and most medical doctors is limited, and should not be applied to all things. Secondly, just because doctors are usually correct about the need for medication compliance, it doesn't mean that we must think, feel and believe according to their wishes. 

Jack Bragen's books are available on Amazon.

Arts & Events

Silkroad Ensemble’s Multi-Cultural Heroes Take Their Stands

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday May 11, 2019 - 12:01:00 PM

For more than two decades, Silkroad Ensemble, originally the brainchild of Yo-Yo Ma, has been inspired by their motto, “Music, radical cultural collaboration, and passion-driven yearning for a more hopeful world.” Yo-Yo Ma stepped down as artistic director in 2017, and although he is still involved with Silkroad’s ongoing projects, he did not participate in the group’s latest work, Heroes Take Their Stand, which was commissioned by CalPerformances and was presented here on Friday, May 3, at Zellerbach Hall.  

Heroes Take Their Stands is an ambitious work. It continues Silkroad’s tradition of multi-cultural collaboration, and, in a new departure, it involves not only music but also multi-media collaboration. Conceived by Iranian-born Ahmad Sadri, a professor of sociology at Lake Forest College, Heroes Take Their Stands brings together heroic tales from five different cultures. Four are ancient, going back thousands of years, while one is modern. As Ahmad Sadri puts it, the heroes in these tales are “normal individuals who choose to act or react in ways that spare others’ lives or right profound injustices – and their acts offer enduring inspiration for us all.”  

At the heart of Heroes Take Their Stands are five new music compositions by different members of the Silkroad Ensemble. The music is paired with multi-media presentation created by visual artists who worked closely with the respective composers, thus forming five different teams of cultural collaborators. Overall, the music is inspired; the visual effects, as is so often the case, are a mixed-bag. Only one episode, The Prince of Sorrows, which recounts the tale of Siavosh from ancient Persia’s Shahnameh, or Book of Kings, by the poet Ferdowsi, is a wholly successful merging of music and visual effects. (I will deal at length with this episode later in this review.) Where the other four episodes are concerned, the visual component varies greatly, both in form and quality.  

The first episode of Heroes Take Their Stands deals with the ancient Greek figure of Elektra, who laments the murder of her father, Agamemnon, by her mother, Clytemnestra, and her mother’s illicit paramour, Aegisthus. Musically, Pauchi Sasaki’s score is itself a multi-cultural work, for it combines various Chinese and Japanese instruments with music associated with contemporary Greek music. Somehow, the music works beautifully. Percussion opens the work, then Wu Tong’s sheng and suona offer reed interventions, followed by violins offering solos evocative of Greek or Middle Eastern music. The visual component features a combination of Chinese black ink animation by Nomi Sasaki, other animation by Juan Carlos Yanaura, and 3D scanning of landscapes by Omar Lavalle, who also created the strange, haunting birdlike sculpture that mysteriously appears in this work’s final 3D landscape. However, what all this has to do with the figure of Elektra is questionable. If this episode were not called Elektra, would anyone be likely to guess that the music and visuals are supposed to deal with Elektra’s harried inner torment? I think not. 

The second episode, June Snow, recounts the 13th century Chinese tale of “The Injustice to Dou E.” A widowed child-bride, Dou E, faces a dilemma forced upon her by a rogue named Zhang. When Dou E refuses Zhang’s attempts to marry her, Zhang tries to kill Dou E’s mother-in-law but inadvertently kills his own father, then frames Dou E’s mother-in-law. Both the mother-in-law and Dou E are convicted and sentenced to be executed. Dou E declares that snow will come in midsummer to prove her own and her mother-in-law’s innocence. And, indeed, snow comes in June. The music for June Snow is composed by Kaoru Watanabe, and Wu Man was responsible for the calligraphic imagery. Wu Man was also featured on her Chinese pipa, an upright stringed instrument that, like a guitar, is plucked rather than bowed. Musically, June Snow was wonderful. However, if one is unable to read the calligraphic imagery, its relevance to the story is totally opaque. 

Arjuna’s Revelation offers a tale from the Hindu epic The Mahabharata, or, specifically, from the Bhagavad Gita. It involves a dialogue between the warrior Arjuna and the Hindu deity Krishna, who gradually coaxes Arjuna to accept his destiny. The music for Arjuna’s Revelation is by Colin Jacobsen, and the visual component was by dancer-choreographer Aparna Ramaswamy. Though program notes indicate that this work comprises six dialogues between music and dance, I couldn’t discern any separation of one dialogue from any other. Being unfamiliar with Indian dance traditions, I found Aparna Ramaswamy’s dancing to be interestingly graceful while angular. But I failed to understand how her dance movements were in any way illustrative, if indeed they were, of the six dialogues between Arjuna and Lord Krishna. Musically, there was excellent percussion on tabla by Sandeep Das. 

The fourth episode, entitled Moderato 400, offered a contemporary tale. Or at least it tried to do so. Program notes tell us that this tale is set in an African-American church in Alabama, where Martin Luther King preaches resistance to the oppression that surrounds the Black community. Musically, the score by Jason Moran utilizes sheng, piano, and taiko drumming to evoke a call-and-response effect. Wu Tong offered hymn-like vocals toward the end of Moderato 400. The visual component, by videographer Lucy Raven, offered a totally mystifying stop-and-go set of repetitive images of what looked like smoke billowing out of an urban city-scape. At least that’s what I made of these images, though how they related to Dr. King’s positive, uplifting message I can’t fathom. All in all, this was the least successful of the five episodes of Heroes Take Their Stands. 

At last we come to what was unquestionably the highlight of the show, The Prince of Sorrows, the 10th century Persian tale recounting the travails of Prince Siavosh. Propositioned by his step-mother, the queen, Siavosh refuses her advances. In a rage, she accuses him of rape. Siavosh proves his innocence by riding his horse through raging fire and escapes unharmed. Then he leads his father’s troops in a successful battle against the king’s enemies. However, when the king orders his son to kill the hostages, Siavosh refuses, and instead goes into exile with a neighboring tribe, who welcome him with marriage into their royal family. In the end, however, Siavosh’s father takes his revenge and oversees the beheading of Siavosh, who thus dies a heroic martyr.  

The music for The Prince of Sorrows is by Persian-born Kayhan Kalhor, who is also featured in the work on kamancheh, an upright stringed instrument that is bowed. The music itself was inspiring, featuring not only the kamancheh but also the nay of Siamal Jahangiri, the tombak of Navid Afghah, and vocals by Amir Mardaneh. The visuals, for once, were strikingly appropriate to the story. Indeed, the visuals by filmmaker Hamid Rahmanian actually told the story, utilizing images of Siavosh’s exploits drawn in the fashion of Persian miniatures, then animated by Qmars Kamali. This visual narrative was a delightful counterpart to the inspiring music of Kayhan Kalhor. Occasional Persian calligraphy in Farsi also made its appearance here and there but never obtrusively. All told, The Prince of Sorrows alone was more than worth the price of admission to The Heroes Take Their Stands. Coming as it did as the final of five episodes, The Prince of Sorrows enabled the audience to leave the auditorium on a high, finding at least in this one piece, and, to a varying degree in the other episodes, the uplifting inspiration at the heart of this Silkroad Ensemble project. 

Theater Review: A Last Minute Pick for 'Arden of Faversham,' Onstage Through This Weekend

Ken Bullock
Friday May 10, 2019 - 04:19:00 PM

"Get thee gone ... I am too good to be thy favorite."

A chance encounter Thursday night with a domestic tragedy (an early style of drama) from 1593 by an anonymous playwright or team of playwrights (a scene in it has been attributed to Shakespeare) has spurred me to recommend it here--an eleventh hour rec': it closes, after three more performances, this Sunday afternoon.

It's 'Arden of Faversham,' staged by Theater of Others in the lovely post-1906 Quake Kelly Cullen Community Auditorium, two blocks from Civic Center BART in San Francisco. 

The play's Elizabethan, but based on a pre-Elizabethan chronicle of the murder of a wealthy Tudorian real estate speculator, one who "flipped" former Roman Catholic Church properties seized by Henry VIII during the English Reformation. 

Arden's wife Alice has taken a lover and decides to do away with her husband, enlisting an ever-growing gaggle of accomplices to assist in the messy undertaking. 

There's a botched series of attempts on Arden's life; Theater of Others bills it as Black Humor. That's consistent with Renaissance and Baroque dramaturgy, as well as some slapstick thrown in and the somewhat goofy sense of a shaggy dog story--will these dastards ever get the job done? 

Theater of Others sees their job through with alacrity, giving one of the finest renditions I can recall of what an old comic melodrama or melodramatic comedy must've looked like to the groundlings at the Globe or more likely the swells at an indoor playhouse, like Blackfriars, The Cockpit or Gray's Inn. 

Glenn Havlan's fine direction keeps a good ensemble on an even keel as they navigate the turbulent waters of plotting and accident, high passions and a bevy of low motives. The script's strictly horizontal, procedinging from left to right like reading an old chronicle on vellum. Speeches and dialogue are the play's motor, some speeches loaded with descriptive passages. And the staging's strictly frontal, with histrionic poses and gestures, which will remind some spectators of silent movies. 

Buoyed by a bravura performance of Alice by Heather Cherry, the show also has fine efforts by Evan Winet as Arden and Jeffrey Trescott (a familiar face to Berkeley theatergoers, here also assistant director and dramaturg) as Arden's bosom friend Franklin. Marc Berman is a particularly effective, comically cut-throat villain, Shakebag. The rest of the cast--Savanna Benedetti, Nathan Bogner, Sheila Cress, John Frediani, John Holst, Jeffrey Kimmich, Mason Waller, David Weiner and Myles Wynn--further the action in diverse and lively ways. 

Lisa Claybaugh's brilliant period costumes provide great scenic effect. Paul Seliga's technical direction and lighting design capitalizes on simple elegance, as does James Goode's spare sound: a dog barking, an owl hooting, seagulls ... 

I hope some of you will be able to catch one of its last three performances: 

Friday & Saturday the 10th & 11th at 8, Sunday the 12th at 2. 

Like most old plays it's long by our TV & movie-filtered standards, about 2 1/2 hours and an intermission. But it's constantly engaging with no let-up. 

Those who love Shakespeare may find, too, that their peripheral theatrical vision has widened, both for the Bard's plays and for theater as a whole. 

Kelly Cullen Community Auditorium, upstairs, 220 Golden Gate, near the northwest corner at Leavenworth. 

(Walking up from Civic Center BART on Market, take Leavenworth walkway on the east side of UN Plaza or Brenham Place and McAllister, then a block up Leavenworth to Golden Gate.) 

For tickets, click on the website below, which connects with Brown Paper Tickets. 

(Theater of Others offers a remarkable deal for admission: $10 for a reservation, $20 with special seating for supporters--the service charge is less than $2--and a Pay What You Will option, collected at the door.) 


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, May 12-19

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday May 11, 2019 - 11:43:00 AM

Worth Noting:

Much of the action is taking place at the City Council Committee meetings which are scheduled during the daytime. Minutes from Council Committee meetings are very brief and none of the City Council Committee meetings have audio or video recordings.

Monday – 10:30 am City Council Committee meeting on Health, Life Enrichment includes RV Parking, 2:30 pm City Council Agenda planning for May 28 full Council regular meeting

Tuesday – 6 pm Regular City Council meeting, 6 pm – 7 pm Meeting on Preparing for Wildfire evacuation – this program is repeated on May 25 

Wednesday – 4:30 pm Transportation Presentation of plan for Sacramento St Addison to Virginia , 7 pm Measure O Oversight 

Thursday - 10:30 am City Council Land Use, 7 pm Transportation presentation of Adeline Corridor Plan 

Sunday, May 12, 2019 

Mother’s Day 

Monday, May 13, 2019 

City Council Health, Life Enrichment, Equity & Community Committee, 10 am, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Room, Agenda: 2. Brown Act Overview, 3. Reports from Health Housing and Community Services, 4. Ban Racial Discrimination on the Basis of Hairstyle, 5. RV Parking, 6. Air Quality Monitoring, 7. Creation Vehicle Dwellers Governance Body,  


City Council Agenda and Rules Committee, Monday, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Agenda Planning for May 28 City Council meeting, Consent: 3. – 6. Assessments – Business Districts, 7. Bid Solicitations, 8. Appropriations Limit, 9. Security Patrol, 10. 4th July Fireworks/events, 13. Reject bids-open market Public Safety Building repair, 14. Fire Prevention Inspections audit, 16. Support HR 40 – Reparation Proposals, 21. Stop signs Carleton-Fulton, 22. Funding Traffic Safety Alcatraz Ave, 23. Street Lights MLK and Stuart, 24. Study Equity to achieve City Contracting, 25. Cannabis, 26. Paid Internships, 27. Support Renters Rights Bills, 28. Support SB 212, SB 641 Rank Choice Voting, 29. Support ADA-6 Voting Rights Parolees, 30. Proposed Budget 2020-2021, 31. Fee Increase Rental Housing Safety Program, 32. Hourly Fee Increase Traffic Engineering & Transportation Divisions, Action: 33. Economic Dashboards, 34. Council recommendations proposed budget, 35. a.b.&c. Green Stormwater Infrastructure, 36. EBMUD Presentation, 37. West Berkeley Service Center Development, 38. Tax Exemption on Federal Research Grants, 39. Moratorium Shared Sidewalk Policy until homeless response system designed, created, implemented, 40. Lighting William Byron Rumford Sculpture, 41. Increase Staffing for Vision Zero, 42. Rename Harold Way to Dalai Lama Way, 43. Resolution Ful Parity Mental Health Patients , Clinicians at Kaiser, 44. Budge Referral Solano Revitalization, 45. Fire Safety in Existing Live/Work Spaces, 46. Transition to Zero-Waste Refuse Trucks, Information Reports: 47. Short term Rentals, 48. IT, 49. Kiosks and Accessibility Obstacles 


Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board – Eviction/Section 8/Foreclosure Committee Meeting, 5 pm, 2001 Center St, Law Library, 2nd Floor, 


Peace and Justice Commission, 7 pm at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor Cypress Room, Agenda: 7. Presentation – African American Holistic Resource Center, 


Youth Commission, 6:30 pm at 1730 Oregon St, Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Services Center, Meeting listed, No Agenda Posted, No notice of Cancellation https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Commissions__Youth_Commission_Homepage.aspx 

Children, Youth and Recreation Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 2800 Park St, Frances Albrier Community Center at San Pablo Park, listed on Community Calendar but not on website 


Tax the Rich Rally, with music by Occupella, 5 – 6 pm at the Top of Solano in front of the Closed Oaks Theater, Rain Cancels 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

Berkeley City Council, 1231 Addison Street, BUSD Board Room, https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/City_Council__Agenda_Index.aspx 

4:30 pm, Closed Session: Agenda: Initiation Litigation Pursuant to Code Section 54956.9(d)(4) a. Rideout matter – Claim No. 0360BC2018, Open Session Reports 54957.1 

6:00 pm, Regular Meeting: Agenda: Consent: 1. Cannabis ordinance revision, 2. Prohibiting contracting with ICE, 3. FlixBus Agreement, 4. Annual Appropriations ordinance, 5. Section 115 Trust Fund Investments, 6. Mental Health Ambulance Transport Contract $5.6 mil 7. & 8.Public Health services Grant Agreements with (7) Alameda Co. (8) State of CA, 9. Grant Application Essential Access Health, 10. Purchase Order Data Center Upgrade, 11. WiFi Installation 12. Hosted Cloud Storage, 13. Video Streaming, 14. Internet Redundancy, 15. Summer Food Service Program for Berkeley youth, 16. Harrison Park-Gabe Catalfo Fields Renovation, 17. Marina Berth fees. 18. Measure M. Woolsey Street, 19. Parking Enforcement Vehicles, 20. Street Lighting Assessments, 21. On-call Construction Services, 22. & 23. Gilman Railroad Crossing Safety Project, 24. Purchase 11 Ford Police Interceptor Utility, 25. Reappoint Dian Davenport to Board of Library trustees, 26. Declare every 3rd Sunday in May to be Postpartum Justice Day, 27. Recommendation to Install Outdoor Public Warning System (Sirens), 28. From Auditor – Understaffing 911 Dispatchers, 29. Support AB 539 – Fair Credit Act, 30. City Manager Evaluation, 32. Opposition to proposed Title IX revision from Betsy DeVos, 33. Support Charter School Reform Assembly Bills, 34. Refer to Budget – Rebuilding Together, 35. Light Acton and University, 37. Buy Clean Act, 38. Support AB 38 Fire Safety, 39. Traffic Calming, 40. May 15 as Bloody Thursday Remembrance and Commemoration of People’s Park, 41. Budget Referral $125,000 Missing Middle Report, Action: Charges/Fees/Increases (42-47) 48. Budget FY 2020 and FY 2021 Public Hearing #1, 49. One-Way Car Share, 50. Residential Parking Football Game Days, 51. ZAB Appeal – 1444 Fifth Street, 52. a.& b. Fossil Free Berkeley, Mental Health, 53. a.&b. Grant Allocation – Sugar Sweetened Beverages, 54. Extend Winter Shelter April 15 – June 30, 2019, 55. Budget Referral: Remediation Lawn Bowling North Green and Santa Fe Right of Way, 56. Berkeley Marina Area Specific Plan – Hargreaves Assoc. 57. Resolution No U.S. Intervention in Venezuela 

Information: 59. RFP Results for Study of Affirmative Action in Berkeley, 61. Residential Preferential Parking 


Meeting to Prepare for Wildfire Evacuations and Household Preparedness, 6 – 7 pm, 1170 The Alameda, North Branch Berkeley Library 


Police Review Commission – Board of Inquiry Hearing – Closed Session, 5:30 pm, at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Complaint #2448 




Wednesday, May 15, 2019  

Animal Care Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 1 Bolivar Drive, Berkeley Animal Shelter, Agenda: VI. a. Max number of dogs walked by one person 4 to 8, b. Enforcement signage – Cesar Chavez Park, c. Animal sales, VII. Large dog exercise area, VII. Financials 


Commission on Aging, 1 – 3 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 4. Presentation: Age Friendly Gateway Continuum, 6. a. Vision Zero https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Commissions__Commission_on_Aging_Homepage.aspx 

Commission on Labor, 7 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 4. 1) Homeless Youth, 2) Fair Workweek,4) Equal Pay draft report, 5. Presentation: Medicare for All-Act, https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Commissions__Commission_on_Labor_Homepage.aspx 

Human Welfare & Community Action Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 3.a. Review Bonita House-Creative Wellness Center, 6. 1000 Person Plan to Address Homelessness, 8. Update West Berkeley Air Quality, 9. Update Alta Bates Closure 


Measure O Bond Oversight Committee, 7 pm 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, Agenda: 7. Role Responsibilities 


Transportation Commission – ACTC/MTC Subcommittee, 4:30 -6:30 pm at 1947 Center St, 4th Floor Dawn Redwood Conf. Room, Agenda: Presentation Sacramento Complete Streets Project – Addison to Virginia 


Organizing for Change sponsored by Gray Panthers with Renters Coalition Living in Subsidized Housing, 1:30 – 3:30 pm at 2870 Adeline Ave, Agenda: Seniors living in subsidized housing on Right to Assemble 

Thursday, May 16, 2019 

City Council Land Use, Housing & Economic Development Committee, 10:30 am, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Room, Agenda: 2. Measure O Affordable Housing Bond Planning, Berkeley Qualified Opportunity Fund, to include equity assessment, Office of Economic Development, set standards, set priorities for opportunity zones, 4. Construction Workforce Development Policy, 5. Open Doors Initiative, 


Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, 7 – 11 pm, 1231 Addison St, Agenda: 5. Appeal 3050 Stanton St. 


Design Review Committee, 7 – 10 pm at 1947 Center St, Basement Multi-purpose Room https://www.cityofberkeley.info/designreview/ 

2398 Bancroft Way @Dana – 8 new Verizon antennas – Committee Decision 

2176 Kittredge – Preview 7-story mixed-use, 126 dwelling units, ground level retail, underground parking, demolition touchless carwash&gas station – advisory comments 

2435 San Pablo – 4-story mixed-use, 46 private rooms with communal kitchens on each residential floor, rooftop terraces, 48 bicycle spaces – majority recommendations 

Fair Campaign Practices Commission, 7 pm at 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, Agenda: 6. Amendments to Berkeley Election Reform Act, 7. Potential violations Greg Magofna, 8. Alleged violations Kate Harrison, 10. Proposed Amendment related to Officeholder Accounts, 11. Discretionary Council Office Budgets, (meeting is Thursday, May 16, not May 10) 


Open Government Commission, 8 pm at 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, Agenda: 6. Good Gov Ombudsman, 7. Annual Report, 8. Letter on draft minutes compliance, 


Transportation Commission, 7 – 10 pm at 1326 Allston Way, Corp Yard, Building A Willow Room, Agenda: 1. Presentation Draft Adeline Corridor Specific Plan, 2. Lyft/MTC Bike Share Program, 3. Response to Fossil Free Berkeley, 4. Transit First Policy 



Friday, May 17, 2019 

Mental Health Commission – Accountability Subcommittee, 1 – 2 pm at 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, Agenda: Work Plan 



Saturday, May 18, 2019 

Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts, 6:30 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, No Agenda Posted – check before going 


Luau at Skatepark, 3 – 7 pm at Skate Park 


Community Meeting; John Hinkle Improvements, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm at North Branch Library 


Sunday, May 19, 2019 

Roses in Bloom Acoustical Series, 3 – 5 pm at Rose Garden 








*Agenda Committee Unfinished business for scheduling – 1. a.&b. U1 Funds for Property Acquisition at 1001, 1007, 1011 University, 1925 Ninth Street, 2. Revisions to Ordinance 7,521 BMC. To increase compliance with short-term rental ordinance, 3. Disposition City-owned Former Redevelopment Agency Properties at 1631 & 1654 Fifth St, 4. Referral to City Manager and budget for creation of “vehicle dweller program” 


*Land Use Committee Unscheduled Items – Revolving Loan Fund, Amnesty Program for Legalizing Unpermitted Dwelling Units, Prioritizing Affordable Housing for Homeless 




Public Hearings Scheduled – Land Use Appeals 

1444 Fifth St – 4 single family dwellings - 5-14-2019 

Notice of Decision (NOD) With End of Appeal Period 

1711 MLK Jr. Way (replace commercial space with dwelling) – appeal ends 5-9-2019 

Remanded to ZAB or LPC With 90-Day Deadline 

1155-73 Hearst (develop 2 parcels) – ZAB 5-19-2019 

2701 Shattuck (construct 5-story mixed-use building) – ZAB 6-30-2019 




June 18 –Green Stormwater Infrastructure, Arts and Culture Plan 

Sept 17 –UC Berkeley Student Housing Plan, Zero Waste Rate Review, Adeline Corridor Plan 

Oct 22 – Berkeley’s 2020 Vision Update, Census 2020 Update, Short term Rentals 

Nov 5 - Transfer Station Feasibility Study, Vision Zero Action Plan, 

Unscheduled – Cannabis Health Considerations 



Cannabis Health Considerations 

May 28 – tentative EBMUD presentation 



To Check For Regional Meetings with Berkeley Council Appointees go to 



To check for Berkeley Unified School District Board Meetings go to 





This meeting list is also posted on the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition website. 

http://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and in the Berkeley Daily Planet under activist’s calendar http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com 


When notices of meetings are found that are posted after Friday 5:00 pm they are added to the website schedule https://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and preceded by LATE ENTRY