Archive for May 2009

On Thursday, May 28, the Berkeley Daily Planet newspaper published an article encouraging people to join a vigilante-style protest in front of the private home of Professor John Yoo. The article read in part:

Neighborhood Alert: Berkeley Home to Possible War Criminal

Last week the Grizzly Peak neighbors of John Yoo received a “Neighborhood Alert” regarding Professor Yoo, in the form of a flyer letting them know he lives among them and providing information about his crimes, namely providing unethical and shoddy legal advice and cover to Bybee, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, etc. …

Unlike a sexual predator or burglar, Mr. Yoo is a criminal whom the police are not likely to point out to Berkeley citizens, though his crimes are horrific. …

I question the acceptability of sheltering a war criminal in Berkeley. I don’t feel safe living in the vicinity of someone who believes torture is legal. …

Finally, there is a growing group of Berkeley citizens who are standing in witness in front of Yoo’s house on a weekly basis, starting this Sunday, May 31, at 2 p.m. Join this group on Grizzly Peak for an hour or so. If there’s any justice in this world John Yoo is going to have problems living a normal life now, unless he apologizes to us all.

So, like the vigilantes of old, these freelance protesters have decided on their own that John Yoo is guilty of a crime and needs to be punished. No longer content to let the courts decide whether he is even to be charged with anything, much less found guilty, much less determine the punishment, the anti-Yoo protesters have decided to stalk him at home, menacing him and making sure that “John Yoo is going to have problems living a normal life now.”

IndyBay, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Indymedia, then published a detailed guide for how to attend the “protest” in front of John Yoo’s home; because Indymedia routinely redirects incoming links, copy and paste this URL into a new browser window to see the listing:

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/05/29/18599330.php

Zomblog correspondent Chicken Kiev pedaled by the rally on a bicycle and snapped these pictures of the vigilante protesters stalking John Yoo in front of his private home:

Chicken Kiev reports via email:

“I snapped this photo as I passed the protest on my bicycle. There were actually five or six people there, but some were across the street talking to someone in a car.”

“This picture shows that they went up onto John Yoo’s private property and wrote graffiti in his driveway (I think it says ‘All torture is a crime.’) Sorry that it’s blurry, but it’s hard to control the camera on the bicycle.”

Is it proper to harass and menace people in their private homes? Have we entered a new era of vigilante justice? Or have the protesters crossed a line into illegal territory? Is it OK for the protesters to tell John Yoo’s neighbors he is a criminal? Are they allowed to write slogans on his private property? Did the Berkeley Daily Planet violate journalistic ethics by promoting this event?

Readers, whatever your opinion on waterboarding and torture and the “War on Terror”: What do you think?

Protest Against Prop. 8 Gay Marriage Ruling

New at zombietime:

Protest Against Prop. 8 Gay Marriage Ruling

If you’d like to comment on this report, you can do so here.

While visiting downtown Berkeley yesterday, I became intrigued by this ad on an AC Transit bus stop:


Say what? A boycott Israel ad? The propagandists are certainly getting bolder, and better funded! I came in for a closer look.


Turns out the ad’s words referred to the fact that the University of California recently reinstated its study-abroad program with Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which apparently has infuriated the many virulent anti-Israel activists in the U.C. system. (Pay no attention to the fact that U.C. has nearly 100 study-abroad programs in 35 countries around the world including Egypt and Turkey; while there are several programs each in many of the participating countries, there is only one in Israel. As usual, Israel is singled out for criticism by the academic left.)


But something seemed “wrong” about the ad. A more detailed inspection revealed that various graphic components had been glued in place, such as this tank. Not Photoshopped — but literally glued onto the background image.


The word balloons spoken by the students were also later additions.


When seen from above, some of the word balloons were coming unglued.


I then realized that the main body of text was itself glued into place. (Notice the edge peeling up at the lower left.) The whole ad was faked!


The final piece of the puzzle: The locking mechanism for the glass cover had been broken, allowing vandals to access the billboard inside.

I suspected that the ad had originally been an ad promoting study in Israel, which was then later vandalized and doctored by anti-Israel activists to reverse the message.

But who did it?

Didn’t take me long to find out. Because the culprits bragged about it online.

A press release issued by the “U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel” gleefully described the organized “guerrilla ad campaign,” and was reprinted in various publications and on various Web sites, including (for example) the Socialist magazine The Monthly Review. The press release reads, in part,

Guerrilla Ad Campaign Replaces “Study in Israel” Billboards
by the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel

Students and community members near the UC Berkeley campus were surprised one weekend to see a series of bus shelter billboards …
The guerrilla ads replaced ads which also featured photos of groups of people, beneath the headline, “Study in Israel? You’d like it here.” The ad campaign was part of an intensive campaign to promote study in Israel at California universities. The University of California recently reinstated a study abroad program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, after years of strong lobbying from pro-Israel students and professionals.

The press release then goes on to describe a whole series of earlier ad defacements, of which the one I saw was merely the most recent example.

The press release was also printed on the Palestinian Birzeit university site and U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel. Note, however, that the press release says the guerrillas wish to “remain anonymous,” even though they freely give quotes in interviews with USCACBI.

One posting about the press release, by a blogger on the “Body on the Line” site, says that the fake ads were made by “friends of mine” — implying that he knows who did it.

I became curious as to who put up the original ads in the first place. I noticed that one of the original ads, as seen in the Monthly Review article above, shows some young women crossing a street. That same image is used in a different ad put up by the pro-Israel organization BlueStarPR, leading me to the presumption that the guerrillas were targetting BlueStarPR ads. But a quick review of the full list of all BlueStarPR images does not reveal the original version of the defaced ad I saw. So I’m still not sure who placed the original ad.

If you know who designed and paid for the authentic advertisement, please inform them, and/or post the information in the comments section here!

In a related incident, the Muslim Association of Britain is calling for similar pro-Israel bus advertisements in London to be taken down, and several of those ads are reported to have been defaced. Could there be a connection?


UPDATE: BlueStarPR confirms that they indeed are the group which designed and placed the ads, in conjunction with the U.C. Berkeley Study Abroad program.

Several readers have pointed out that defacing or replacing ads counts as either criminal vandalism or outright theft, and is punishable by law. Perhaps the sites linked to in the defacement (http://usacbi.wordpress.com/, http://www.stopthewall.org/ and http://www.bdsmovement.net/ merit a little investigation in relation to this crime?


UPDATE 2: The BlueTruth blog earlier this month had a post about an identical ad defacement in Berkeley, along with excellent background info on the relationship between U.C. Berkeley and Hebrew University: BlueTruth: For Marla Bennett

Obama’s rejected campaign slogan: Alteration!

Obama’s campaign slogan was “Change” — but a sewing shop in Berkeley gives a glimpse of what his slogan would have been like if his advisors had chosen a more pretentious latinate version of the same concept:

Communist rally fizzles in the rain

San Francisco’s May Day political rally, sponsored by a variety of communist groups and labor unions, found itself drenched by some unseasonably wet weather. Only a few hundred people showed up for what was advertised as a major event. The Bolsheviks, for example, put a tent over their booth, but even with the protection from the rain, attendance was extremely sparse . The “4″ superimposed on the hammer-and-sickle is the symbol for “The Fourth International,” or the form of communism promoted by Leon Trotsky.


In order to attract a larger crowd, the event had also been billed as a pro-amnesty rally. Despite there being no real connection between International Workers’ Day (May 1) and the immigration issue, most of the attendees carried signs about amnesty, and most of the speeches and signs were in Spanish. Some groups combined the two themes, such as the pro-amnesty socialist group seen here.


And as always, the Revolutionary Communist Party tried to come up with the most attention-grabbing slogan.


Several people in the crowd carried mysterious messages about “melting the ice.” I’m not quite sure if they were advocates in favor of global warming, or if they had some other agenda in mind.


Some took a different approach and suggested we crush the ice instead.

Down with ice!


The usual socialist literature was on sale, with some stuff seemingly left over from 2004 and 2005.


And of course the usual obsession with Jews and Israel. Par for the course.

All in all, the soggiest and smallest San Francisco rally I’ve seen in years.


Berman Post has a photo gallery of a very similar May 1 event in New York — same small crowd, same weather, same focus on amnesty and communism.

SFGate has a huge gallery of Associated Press pictures of May Day rallies around the world.