An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 2.7 shook Berkeley tonight, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. -more-
Police said they'd enforce no-camping restrictions in Civic Center Park, but they didn't say when. Now cops are on hold, as MLK Park occupiers skedaddle. -more-
Protesters uploaded this video to YouTube. -more-
After members of the "Occupy Berkeley" camp were served with a notice that police planned to evict people lodging at Civic Center Park after 10 p.m. Wednesday night, a group has remained in the area despite small bouts of police action this morning. -more-
Berkeley Occupiers Defiant Wednesday Night, as Berkeley Police March Into Camp to Distribute Shelter Information
All day Wednesday occupiers in Civic Center Park prepared themselves for eviction. As the moment of truth approached, they used music, rhetoric, and solidarity to ready themselves.
They practiced maneuvers, gave interviews, and screwed up their courage for a confrontation with Berkeley Police, whom one occupier from Oakland called "pussies" compared to Oakland P.D. -more-
“The message has been consistent within the city that the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) officers have been monitoring the park for community, public safety and participant safety.” -more-
Updated: Berkeley Police Threaten to Evict Occupy Berkeley Encampment Tonight--Councilmembers Not Consulted
It appears that Berkeley's city administrators plan to close down the Occupy Berkeley encampment tonight at 10, though they have not informed the public or councilmembers who have been visiting the encampment about their plans.
Last night (Tuesday) at 10 p.m. the Berkeley Police passed out this flyer to those in the Occupy Berkeley encampment, announcing their intention of evicting Occupiers tonight:
WARNINGOn the reverse side of the flyer was a list of the city's homeless shelters. -more-
10:00 P.M. PARK CLOSURE LAW AND ILLEGAL LODGING LAW WILL BE ENFORCED
Berkeley Municipal Code ("BMC") § 6.32.020 prohibits being in a City park from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. This park is closed at 10:00 p.m. Starting December 21,2011, this law will be enforced. Persons in this park after 10:00 p.m. will be subject to arrest for violating BMC §6.32.020 and their property will be removed.
Penal Code § 647(e) prohibits lodging on City property without permission from the,City. No one has permission to lodge in this park. Persons who are camping in this park are violating Penal Code § 647(e).
Starting December 21, 2011, anyone found camping in this park will be required to remove their tent and other property being used for lodging here. Persons who fail to remove their tent and other property used for lodging in this park will be subject to arrest for violating Penal Code § 647(!) and their property will be removed."
After weeks of street and walkway closures, and toxic, stinking fumes, this weekend's Telegraph Holiday (street) Fair, a twenty-six year tradition, breathed life into a moribund business district. -more-
Members of St John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley sang Christmas carols for Occupy Berkeley after church on Sunday (Dec. 18th). The group was led by Pastor Max Lynn and Music Director Todd Lolly in their annual caroling expedition, which usually focuses on senior residents homes, because they wanted to show support for the occupy movement. -more-
I've been dismayed by the recent slew of movie posters advertising the new Sherlock Holmes sequel. Popping up on billboards and buses around the Bay Area, they show a smirking Sherlock and a blank-faced Watson brandishing handguns. -more-
Here is part of what I want to say:
I don't regard the camp as having any remaining political legitimacy. It still has political significance, but not legitimacy.
Here is what I mean: -more-
As far as I can tell Bill Bahou, popular longtime owner of the neighborhood Roxie Deli in South Berkeley, is in the cross-hairs of both the Walgreens Corporation and—thanks to Walgreens' highly paid lawyers—Berkeley City bureaucracy. -more-
Editor's Note: The Planet received this letter tonight (the first night of Chanukah) from Rabbi Lerner:
Challenged by interviewer Michael Krasny on the NPR affiliate KQED's Forum show Tuesday morning Dec. 20, 2011, to defend one part of Embracing Israel/Palestine (my claim that the path to peace requires a transformation of consciousness, and that Israel and Palestine not only could live together in peace but that there is no peace and justice for Israel without peace and justice for Palestine, so the best way to be both pro-Israel is to be pro-Palestine, and the best way to be pro-Palestine is to also be pro-Israel) I argued that the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians actually want peace but cannot believe that the other side wants it too. It is this depressive paranoid certainty that "the other" wants to destroy us that has been a central part of what keeps Israeli and Palestinians from finding the path to their common interests, just as it is a similar paranoid and pathogenic fantasy that keeps the US population willing to finance an inflated military which keeps in an ending state of hyper-alertness and makes it a ready tool for imperial ambitions of the wealthy. I also presented my psychological assessment of both sides and my view that consciousness transformation, though difficult, is both possible and absolutely necessary, both in Israel/Palestine and in the U.S.
The answer from the Jewish Right came tonight in the 4th attack on my house, this time on the first night of Chanukah (tonight, Dec. 20th). This one was relatively mild—two black-hooded men pasted signs on the outside of my house and garage saying "Palestine is an Arab fantasy." They were taking their clue from Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich who has tried to out-do his Republican opponents in the primaries by, among other things, showing that he can be even more extreme on Israel than anyone else. Thus the notion that Palestine is an "invented nation." -more-
In recent advertisements in their attempt to gain control of people’s opinions, the oil companies have reached a new level of brazenness. They have now come out and said, in a straightforward manner, that we ought to be in favor of more oil exploration and of the use of “oil sands” in Canada, which is actually a nicer way of saying “oil shale.” It would be a strip-mining of large areas of wilderness to get the oil contained in the rock. They would like to see the public approve of more offshore drilling. -more-
Mr. Rosenberg's remarks about the dispute between Monterey Market and its neighboring businesses ignores the history of laws against unfair competition and "loss leaders," that have been in place in California since 1933. It is illegal to sell items at below cost (including overhead and business expenses) in order to drive a competitor out of business. -more-
It’s becoming clear to most of us that the helium is slowly seeping out of the Occupy Berkeley balloon, which rose with great enthusiasm not that long ago. The movement has had enormous results, succeeding completely in the obvious goal of calling attention to the huge disparities between the super-rich and everyone else which are growing throughout the world. Now, however, it’s time to—sorry to use an overused slogan—move on to something else.
Berkeley Councilmember Jesse Arreguin has issued a lucid and intelligent summary of where Occupy Berkeley has been, along with an analyis of how the city of Berkeley should manage the settlement in Martin Luther King Civic Center Park in the near future. His document could serve as a model for other places which still have lingering Occupy encampments, but it probably won’t.
A quick crib sheet, for those who can’t be bothered to read three or four pages of print: As long as campers don’t break any other laws, the city will treat camping out as a form of protected speech, but that doesn’t mean campers can let their dogs run wild. (Arreguin’s use of the police-speak tag “zero tolerance” seems to have confused some commenters: it’s zero tolerance for repeat infractions of the stated rules, not zero tolerance for behavior explicitly defined as tolerable, i.e. camping.)
But he, correctly, doesn’t get into the question of whether camping out per se is still the best form of political expression. To understand that, supporters need to unwind the history of the Occupy actions to see what the next step should be. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Merry Xmas, Baby, from Aunt and Uncle Scrooge in Berkeley! If we believe the flyer distributed last night at the Occupy Berkeley encampment by Berkeley police, tonight’s the night for the big bust.
Let’s stipulate, for starters, that the site’s turned into an awful mess. No one I talk to would deny that anymore, even the most loyal supporters of the occupy concept. Something should certainly be done about it, and Councilmember Jesse Arreguin’s suggestions would be a good place to start.
But...how stupid is it that the city’s hired guns, the city manager and the police chief, don’t seem to have made the most desultory attempt to get buy-in from Berkeley citizens or the elected officials who have spent the most time working with the protesters?
Maybe someone, somewhere, in Berkeley’s city bureaucracy (oops, almost wrote autocracy) should have a chat with Robert Birgenau or Jean Quan before giving the police carte blanche to go full steam ahead.
There are many opportunities for things to go wrong tonight. Even though we’ve all got better things to do, it might be a good idea for anyone who is concerned with civic peace and civil liberties to observe whatever proceedings materialize at 10. -more-
In a recent New York Times article the newspaper’s senior science writer, William J. Broad, takes a dig at Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s obsession with the possibility of a “nightmarish of doomsday scenarios: a nuclear blast high above the United States that would instantly throw the United States in a dark age.”
The phenomenon that Gingrich refers to is an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), one side effect of a nuclear explosion. EMPs can destroy or disrupt virtually anything electrical, from computers to power grids. As the Times points out, Gingrich has used this potential threat to advocate bombing Iran and North Korea. “I favor taking out the Iranian and North Korean missiles on their sites,” he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2009. Gingrich has also talked up the EMP “threat” on the campaign trail.
Broad dismisses EMPs as “a poorly understood phenomenon of the nuclear age” and quotes Missile Defense Agency spokesman Richard Lehner poo-pooing the damage from an EMP attack as “pretty theoretical.”
While the Times is correct in dismissing any Iranian or North Korean threat—neither country has missiles capable of reaching the U.S., Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons, and both have never demonstrated a desire to commit national suicide—what Broad does not mention is that the effects of EMP are hardly “poorly understood”: the U.S. has an “E-bomb” in its arsenal. -more-