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The SFPD and police departments across the country get free military equipment, but does it make us safer or provoke violence?

This Week's Paper

cover imageFall Arts preview: movies, concerts, festivals, theater, dance, nightlife, videogames, gallery shows, and more. Plus: hip-hop tricksters Souls of Mischief return, local police gifted military weapons, witness comes forward in Alex Nieto shooting. Articles Online | Digital Edition

From the Blogs

Dick Meister: Shades of the Thirties

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Dick Meister, formerly labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor, politics and other matters for a half-century.

By now, there's can be no doubting it: What's happening in Wisconsin is one
of the most important labor developments in decades. It's of major
importance to unions and their members, of major importance to working
people generally ­ of major importance to us all.

In  many ways, it's the 1930s again. Just as then, workers and their
political allies and other  supporters are demonstrating, picketing,
marching, striking and otherwise forcefully demanding the basic civil right
of collective bargaining ­ the unfettered right for workers' representatives
to negotiate with employers on setting their wages, hours and working
conditions. Read more »

Mirkarimi running for sheriff

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Sup. Ross Mirkarimi is going to file papers today (Feb 22) to begin his campaign for sheriff.

Mirkarimi told us he wants to continue the progressive legacy of Mike Hennessey and to work to reduce recidivism. "Eventually, almost everyone who's incarcerated comes back to the community," he said, noting that more than 60 percent of people released from the county jail are re-arrested at some point. "We have to work on re-entry programs to lower that number," he said. "It's about keeping communities safe."Read more »

SFBG Radio: The message of Wisconsin

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Today Johnny talks to Johnny Venom from Chicago about the story behind what's happening in Wisconsin. Listen after the jump. Read more »

Owning it: Kyle Abraham in fast and slow motion

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Dance artist and choreographer Kyle Abraham isn’t going on vacation anytime soon and he admits his next day off will be in August. “I try to work really really hard, I never take days off, which I need, but I’d rather get work done,” says Abraham. His work is paying off. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and now based in New York City, Abraham visits San Francisco this weekend to perform two solos in the Black Choreographers Festival at the ODC Theater. Read more »

“My girlfriend is a hacker”: Inside the EFF party

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On our way to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s 21st Birthday party, my programmer friend explained to me why, if it weren’t for the work of the good folks over at EFF, neither eBay nor WikiLeaks could do their thing. Read more »

Noise Pop Film Festival: the new new age?

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The Family Jams, a documentary by Kevin Barker (the man behind Currituck Co. and and on-again-off-again accompanist of Vetiver), captures the careers of the genre-fucks Devandra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, and Vetiver in their infancy on a 2004 summer tour. (The doc screens Thurs/24 as part of the Noise Pop Film Festival; check out a trailer here.)

Near the film’s beginning, Barker, in a voiceover, shares a memory of seeing large flying cockroaches that lived in his grandmother’s kitchen drawers in Hawaii. In the next scene — whodathunk? — a large cockroach appears during a show in Houston, Texas when his musical family (Banhart, Newsom, and Andy Cabic of Vetiver, among others) plays together at the show’s end. Could this link 'twixt families be made any more obvious?

Read more »

Herrera's crackpipe crackdown

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I lived at Hayes and Fillmore in the 1980s, at the height of the crack epidemic, and a spectacularly unsuccessful dealer hung out on my corner. He was so bad at selling the stuff (or else was smoking so much of it) that he was constantly broke and used to knock on my door late at night ask to borrow a buck to buy a can of beer.

At one point he owed me about $10, and offered to pay me back with “some hubba.” He proceded to open his fist and show me a couple of grimy rocks rolling around in his filthy, sweaty palm.

It looked so appealing. I politely declined.Read more »

The children

Robert Moses returns to classic storytelling with Fable and Faith

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Robert Moses may not know it, but he is a pied piper. The ability to hold the attention of 200 hormone-packed middle school students at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday in early February must qualify as some kind of superhuman ability.

But Moses, choreographer and artistic director of Robert Moses' Kin, defers to his own pied piper, the one on stage who immortalized the German city of Hamelin. As the fabled character, Dexandro "D" Montalvo twitches, churns, and first commands the rats; then, with beckoning index fingers, he mesmerizes the "children" to follow him who knows where.Read more »

Onek to SFPD Chief turned D.A. Gascon: release records of officers cleared in shootings

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Calitics has a revealing letter from David Onek, a senior fellow at the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice, a former member of the San Francisco Police Commission and a candidate in the 2011 District Attorney’s race, demanding greater transparency from the D.A.’s office when it comes to explaining why officers have been cleared in officer-related shootings. Read more »

Hot sexy events: February 16-22

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'Tis the weekly sex events of playa-sized proportions! In addition to our city editor Steve Jones' reading at Kinky Salon this week, this week you can also catch a reception for a new art book on goofily half-attired or gleefully naked Burners published for the world to see, courtesy of playa photographer Julian Cash.

The People of Burning Man is the product of Cash's insistence on bringing an immaculate white portable studio to the playa year after year,  setting up actual photo shoots in a festival world where most documentation relies on the most candid of cameras. The result is that BRC's wacky personas and costumes are explicated and orchestrated better than they'd ever be if you just saw them strutting past you through Center Camp. Not surprisingly, a lot of the photos have to do with sex. But Cash's impish camera-side manner has a way of making even the most pierced, punked perv look playful (I should know, he took myphotos last fall) – and his signature white backdrop strips his subjects' context away so that you can really focus on what that pair of furry pink chaps, nipple paint, or lifted tutu wants to express.

Read more »

Planned Parenthood calls for support against GOP attack

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As the struggle to keep the doors open at the legendary women's clinic, Lyon-Martin Health Services, continues here in San Francisco, yet another blow to women's health care at the national level has advocates sounding the alarm. Planned Parenthood has issued a call for help defeating a federal bill it's calling "the most dangerous legislative assault on women's health and Planned Parenthood in our 95-year history."

Congress is gearing up to vote on the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would eliminate federal funding for all health-care services provided by any clinic that offers abortion services. The legislation places Planned Parenthood, a leading national provider of reproductive health care serving primarily low-income and uninsured women, squarely in the crosshairs. Read more »

When radical protest works

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It's easy to get turned off by protests, to say that direct action, sit-ins, arrests are counterprodcutive and don't make any difference. But then you read something like this and you realize that, over time, in-your-face activism can have a very direct impact.Read more »

No more San Brunos!

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For decades, the Guardian has done story after story on PG&E's deteriorating service, terrible maintenance record, continuous stonewalling and coverups, emphasis -- not on safety -- but on jacking up executive salaries and putting tens of millions into fighting community choice aggregation in San Francisco and Marin, and on the granddaddy of monopoly moves (last year's Prop 16). The San Francisco Chronicle, to its immense credit, has come through with a series of stories laying out PG&E's virtually criminal behavior in the San Bruno pipeline explosion.

Now TURN, the consumer watchdog over utilities, is putting forth an excellent way to fight back with a  tough petition and spreading the word. TURN says, "PG&E charged its customers $5 million to fix a gas pipeline under San Bruno in 2009, but delayed the work citing other priorities. The company then spent $5 million on executive bonuses."

Take action to demand PG&E make customer safety its top priority, and pay for the costs of this tragedy with its own profits, not our pockets. Read more »

Warren Hellman: The rich are undertaxed

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I couldn't reach financier Warren Hellman before I wrote my column in this week's paper talking about the employee pension discussions. But he called me yesterday (Feb. 16) after he'd seen it, and I expected he'd give me some shit.

Wrong.

In fact, Hellman had only one problem with my analysis: "Your article is didn't go far enough." Turns out he thinks I was a bit too easy on the billionaires.Read more »

The Performant: Enter the Platypus

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French “Art” and Fringe wins at the EXIT Theatre

Of all the theatre companies in the Bay Area currently operating, the most specifically focused may well be our premiere (or rather only) amateur Francophone company Le Theatre Platypus. Though the Goethe-Institut sometimes hosts touring productions, such as Bridge Marklund’s “Faust in the Box” which will play in the Institut auditorium March 3 and The Mission Cultural Center hosts occasional Spanish-language plays such as Dolores Prida’s “Coser y Cantar” (playing March 17-19), dedicated multi-lingual local troupes are unfortunately scarce. This makes going to see a Platypus play more than just a night out, but a bona-fide cultural immersion experience.

Read more »