February 10, 2012

The Case of the Missing Journalism

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:36 pm

KTVU got there Thursday
Tents popped up again onSproul Plaza Thursday
Little tents seen on Frank Ogawa Plaza

As the first full week in February ends, the overwhelming temptation for political pundits is to compare the chaotic process of getting the Republican primary elections voters to choose the man who is ultimately going to get the nomination to Bach’s Little Harmonic Labyrinth, and so the World’s Laziest Journalist will skip that because it is too obvious. The executives for the Democratic Party know who their nominee will be just as surely as Karl Rove knows who his party will select.

Isn’t it obvious to non pundits that Romney is a Potemkin candidate? For most Republicans the situation is like when they learn beforehand that they will be honored via a surprise party and that they will have to act surprised when it happens right on schedule.

The paid pundits in the mainstream media know this but their weekly (“Yeah, I get paid weakly – very weakly”) paycheck is whatcha might call “hush money.” When the inevitable happens watch and see just how authentic the surprise is on the faces of TV’s regulars on the weekend analysis shows. It’s like they say in Hollyweird: “If you can fake sincerity, you have it made in Hollywood.”

Didn’t Republicans fight hard to get ranked choice voting established and now aren’t they using the Liberals’ arguments against the change to discredit Romney who isn’t getting much more than about 50 percent of the voters in any one primary?

Speaking of Republican inconsistencies; what about the possibility of sending Americans into Syria to help them win freedom and democracy? Is it an oxymoron when Republicans staunchly endorse sending American youth to die in a war to establish a democracy overseas? Shouldn’t they want to establish a Republic and not a Democracy?

The Oakland city council at their regular Tuesday night meeting voted down a measure to order the Police to use more stringent measures when dealing with the Occupy protesters.

Some cynics question spending money for keeping people out of a public park or plaza or from seizing a vacant building on a weekend when five murders are committed in other areas of Oakland. Isn’t the answer that there is always going to be gang violence but cleaning up the downtown shopping area makes business associations happy?

Periodically at Frank Ogawa Plaza tiny teepees will appear. Apparently they are meant to be a gesture of defiance regarding the ban on the use of tents in that area in front of the Oakland City Hall.

This week the Guardian weekly newspaper in San Francisco ran an article, on page nine of the February 8 to 14, 2012 edition, written b Shawn Gaynor, about new legislation which is designed to prevent the San Francisco Police Department from working with the FBI to investigate local citizens.

Isn’t it one thing for the police to tell a fearful wife that they can’t do much about a husband’s threats until he actually does something unlawful, and another thing for a country that might send troops to Syria to investigate the possibility of future reprisals inside the USA?

This week the New York Times in a lead story on page one reported that the USA plans to downsize the number of diplomats stationed in Iraq. Were they trying to hint that the massive Embassy constructed under war conditions in that country was an example of overspending that precipitated the numerous cuts to welfare programs inside the USA? If that’s what they wanted to imply, why not just come out and say so in an editorial?

How can it be that there isn’t a week that goes by without some liberals protesting the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Prison but the allegations of prisoner abuse in the Los Angeles County Jail gets little (if any) notice outside that gigantic county?

On Thursday, February 9, 2012, Occupy Cal held a rally on the Mario Savio steps at Sproul Hall.

The World’s Laziest Journalist went early to the noon event and, while waiting for the start time to arrive, chatted with a local political activist, Russell Bates, who attends many of the political events in the area.

Bates (who emphasizes that he is not related to the mayor of Berkeley) related a version of the events in Oakland on January 28, 2012, that didn’t quite mesh with the way it was reported in local news media.

According to Bates, the marchers who trampled a fence down at the Kaiser Center in Oakland that day were trying to move away from police aggressive police officers and when the marchers encountered the fences the crowd movement away from the police was a greater force than the fence was engineered to withstand.

Bates went on to assert that the people who were arrested for burglary entry into the YMCA later that night, were merely trying to avoid being arrested in a kettling maneuver by the police and that the marchers were merely rushing through the only avenue of escape. Bates alleges that of the 408 people arrested that day, only twelve were charged.

Bates claims that the news media is complicit in spinning the events of that day because they did not provide aerial coverage from their news choppers of the kettling process.

On Thursday, news coverage of the attempt to restart the Occupy Cal movement initially could be described as meager. A camera man from KTVU was covering the noon rally as well as reporters from the student newspaper, radio and TV studio.

Last fall Occupy Cal received news coverage from a much larger contingent of journalists.

A police officer informed the protesters that the tents they were erecting on Thursday afternoon were not permitted. The police did not take action immediately and attempts to learn about subsequent developments by listening for news reports on KCBS news radio were unproductive.

The columnist functions as the writer, typesetter, editor, fact checker, for this column but also has to do the computer work necessary (download from the Coolpix, edit the photos and transfer the ones selected for possible use to a memory stick and then posted online in a place where the html process can find and fetch it for use when the column is posted on Friday morning) to add photos to the column.

[Note: there is a labor dispute in progress at the World’s Laziest Journalist’s headquarters and the proofreaders have been locked out until they give up their silly demands for wages and other benefits.]

Would it be appropriate if the World’s Laziest Journalist were to be well paid to not cover Occupy Cal? How can “hush money” be spun so that it sounds commendable?

On Friday morning, KCBS news radio was not making any mention of the Thursday student protest and so the World’s Laziest Journalist will have to take a circuitous rout to the computer which will be used to post the column online and check to see if the tents are still making their mute protest or if the protesters have folded their tents and faded away into the night.

On Friday morning, that news station was reporting about a Thursday night public meeting in Oakland where members of the public made charges of police brutality against the participants in the Occupy Oakland events.

Recently this columnist has suggested that there might be a need for an unofficial meeting place for a Berkeley Press Club. Apparently the columnist misjudged the level of enthusiasm such a suggestion might generate. Only one reader responded to the idea of such a group.

On Thursday, the news media seems to regard Occupy Cal as a fad that has faded.

This just in: On Friday morning the tents were still on Sproul Plaza and more TV news crews had arrived and interviews were being conducted. The story on Friday morning seemed to focus on the symbolism of a mushroom as indicating regeneration. The World’s Laziest Journalist will try to file updates next week.

To be continued . . .

California Governor St. Ronald Reagan once said: “If it takes a bloodbath to end this dissention on campus; let’s get it over with.”

Now the disk jockey will celebrate the Beach Boys reunion by playing their “Smile” album. Tuesday in San Francisco there will be several events to mark the 50th anniversary for Tony Bennett’s original studio session for making the recording of “I left my heart in San Francisco,” so the DJ will play that song. He will also play “Desert Caravan.” We have to go and see if we can watch the Grammies. Have a “nothing to see here” type week.

November 18, 2011

Deja vu all over again: 1968 and 2011 on Sproul Plaza

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 3:14 pm

Here I am, sitting on the steps in front of Sproul Hall at the University of California in Berkeley, looking out over Sproul Plaza before me, reliving my youth.

“Come to Cal and study city planning,” my best friend Anne wrote me back in 1966. “President Johnson has just ear-marked hundreds of millions of dollars for urban renewal and for his Great Society, and there will be lots of city planning jobs available to us after we graduate. This is a good way to both help America and also have meaningful jobs.”

Sounded good to me. I’d just finished helping Bill Tatum and Walter Thabit save New York City’s Lower East Side from the bulldozer and I had nothing else to do. Cal, here I come!

Then what happened? I graduated from Cal in 1968 with an MCP — only to be told by perspective employers, “Too bad for you. All the money that had been going to the Great Society is now going to the Vietnam war and most city planning jobs have been eliminated. And besides, we can’t hire you because you’re a woman — we’re only hiring men with families to support.”

It was 1968. I had no money. No job. Nothing to do. So I just lived in a friend’s attic, lived by my wits and sat on the steps in front of Sproul Hall every day for a year after my graduation. For a whole year.

It was a very bad year.

And now it’s deja vu all over again. No job. No money. No hope. All the big hopes that we held for the new millennium in the year 2000 have all been wasted on stupid endless pointless wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Palestine.

So I decided to do the same thing today that I had done back then: Go sit on the steps in front of Sproul Hall. Only this time I’m hoping that it won’t take a whole other year for me to figure out what to do next.

PS: In many ways, the corporatist One Percent just loves our Occupy America movement — because It gives the oligarchs who control us a chance to flex their weaponized muscles, to divide us American peons against each other still further and to characterize people who object to their wealth as dirty, homeless and crazy instead of moral and financial victims of their blatant systematic chicanery.

PPS: Nationally, the first thing that we 99% need to do is to eliminate the wide-spread massive corruption that currently characterizes American politics: Every politician who spends over $100,000 on any one campaign should be thrown in jail — hopefully one of those private gruesome for-profit forced-labor-camp nightmare-inducing prisons that our current legislators have been shameless about voting into place.

Second, Anyone who has ever had anything major to do with the Federal Reserve should be jailed as well — or tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. According to the GAO, the Fed just embezzled 16 trillion dollars from us and gave it to Wall Street and big American banks — and to foreign banks too. If that doesn’t totally piss you off, then you need to start checking your pulse.

Third, unjust Supreme Court justices such as Thomas and Scalia should also be jailed immediately. And White House pretty-boy poodles for the One Percent such as Bush, Cheney and Obama should be jailed as well. And Congressional errand-boys for the big corporations? Also clamped in leg-irons! Duh.

Fourth, every single man, woman and child in America should also take turns sitting on Sproul Plaza for a day. And then we should all be awarded free education and/or meaningful jobs. Plus we should also be awarded $30,000 each — as part of America’s new victim compensation plan after having been viciously robbed by corporatist thieves in Washington and Wall Street.

PPPS: Speaking of bulldozers, U.C. police raided Sproul Plaza again at 3 am last night — driving bulldozers across the plaza, flattening everything in sight, destroying tents and artwork in their wake and pushing people out of their way. No big surprise there.

PPPPS: And speaking of endless war, the Glasgow Sunday Herald’s war correspondent David Pratt just sent me an article entitled “Danger: the Middle East may go Ballistic”.

“In more than two decades of Middle East watching,” stated Pratt, “I’ve got used to unexpected events and endless predictions of doomsday scenarios. But, even by its own politically volatile and labyrinthine standards, there have been some very ominous and shadowy things taking place there of late…. So many factors could now ignite the [Middle East right now], and standing well back would be a near impossible option for the international community. The Middle East might just be about to go ballistic, and I’m not simply talking about a few missiles in Iran.”


November 15, 2011

Seems like old times in Berkeley

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 6:01 pm

Striking students pass through Sather Gate
Striking students gather on Sproul Plaza Tuesday.
Music was part of the program at Sproul Plaza Tuesday

The fact that broadcast news media want to cover an issue in about 90 seconds works to the advantage of the Conservatives because most voters don’t want to get a complete picture of a complex issue and the student strike at University California Berkeley will provide an example of how the rush to oversimplify destroys journalism’s reason for being.

In the Sixties the University system in California was an outstanding opportunity for young people in that state to acquire an affordable education.

In the Seventies, Prop 13 was sold to home owning voters as a way to save money. The property tax had provided the funds for affordable educations. When Prop 13 passed, businesses saved large amounts of money when that tax was eliminated from their overhead expenses. Did they pass the savings along to consumers?

Wealthy families are used to expecting that their kids will be college educated and become industry management. The potential for middle and low class families sending their children to college may have seemed like the underclasses were stealing opportunities for large salaries from them so it behooved the wealthy to put the cost of education beyond the capability of the middle and lower class.

The fact that Prop 13 benefited business immensely made its passage a double payoff for the wealthy.

Can an explanation of how the passage of Prop 13, more than 30 years ago, caused the current student unrest, be reduced to a few words that fit on a bumper sticker?

Can the opposing force’s message of “Reduce taxes, increase jobs” be refuted on a bumper sticker?

So today students strike to make the point that they want the opportunity for an affordable education just like there was in the Sixties and the people who don’t want to restart a tax burden they managed to eliminate just say “trickle down” and dupe the voters who don’t examine the history of an issue.

To the best of this photographer/columnist’s ability to cover the start of the UCB student strike on Tuesday, November 15, 2011, we can report that we did not see a single instance of any student burning his draft card.

Doesn’t that prove conclusively that change has been delivered, just as promised?

November 10, 2011

“Some things never change”: Student protests at UC Berkeley

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Jane Stillwater @ 2:15 am

On tonight’s news, they featured various segments covering protests at Occupy Oakland, Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Denver, Occupy Seattle, Occupy New York, Occupy Austin, Occupy Chicago, etc. And tonight I was also a part of “Occupy Cal”. And the university police charged into a mass of student demonstrators like they were going after bank robbers or bad guys instead of just students protesting HUGE tuition hikes. And the students stood their ground on Sproul Plaza against great odds.

The police seized tents and banners from the students — and what do you know? The students seized them right back!

And, later, when there was a lull in between various attacks on students, I had a chance to talk to some of the cops. “Are other local police forces involved in this operation — or is it only the U.C. police?”

“Just the university police, ma’am. Not the city police. But the chancellor stated that he would not allow tents to be erected on campus.” And so the chancellor apparently chose to give an order to take the tents down.

Bad choice.

“I used to protest here at this very same spot back in the 1960s,” I then told the boys in blue.

“Some things never change,” one cop replied. Well, guess what? Things had pretty damn well better change — or else!

Or else what?

Or else there will be a hit-and-run type of protest movement from the rest of us 99% — that will go on and on and on at different places daily all over America until things DO start to change. The corporatists don’t have the money or the manpower to control all of us everywhere. A non-violent hit-and-run guerrilla protest movement? Yay.

And I just heard that U.C. Santa Cruz students have also gone out on strike.

And will a plaza or university or town square or bank near you be next?

PS: U.C. students in Berkeley are very well-represented by their district’s councilperson, Kriss Worthington, who was also on Sproul Plaza, backing his young constituents up. Here’s what he told the Berkeley Daily Planet tonight:

“At the home of the Free Speech Movement, the UCPD appears to have suppressed Free Speech again! Please join us in questioning this behavior and challenge the UCPD to respect the Free Speech Rights of Occupy Cal.”

Worthington then went on to admonish Chancellor Birgeneau and UC police chief Calaya for their violent actions against non-violent protestors. “I wanted to bring to your attention that banners with Free Speech content appear to have been seized by UCPD in front of Sproul Plaza. …It is hard to imagine that such an act could occur at the exact location in Berkeley where the Free Speech Movement began.” Worthington nailed it exactly.

“You can imagine that the sense of irony will not be lost on the public, that the UCPD violated the Free Speech rights of protesters at this particular location. …These students have made a firm commitment to no violence and no vandalism. The University should be commending the thousands of students that are participating. For many, this could be their very first political protest of their life. They are protesting specifically for additional financing for the University of California. The University should support this enthusiasm and help encourage this to be an effective protest that helps the University and our country.”–By-Councimember-Kriss-Worthington

PPS: Of course it is unacceptable that police are violently shutting down freedom of speech at the very spot where the Berkeley Free Speech Movement was born. But even more unacceptable is the fact that free speech movements all over the United States are also being shut down — here in America, in the Land of the Free.

I mean, seriously. With Veterans Day almost upon us, we can only speculate why our heroic troops fought and died in foreign wars — if the very Freedom that they fought so hard for abroad is being violently shut down right here at home.


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