Don't Bother Waiting for the One Percent to Shape Up--Here in Berkeley It's a DIY Holiday

By Becky O'Malley
Friday December 23, 2011 - 02:24:00 PM

Being out and about in Berkeley in the week before Christmas provides a good window on the world in 2011. A lot of fuss has been made, rightly so, about the major divide between the 1% super-rich and the 99% others, but the old distinction of the haves versus the have-nots is still valid.

Berkeley has recently been certified as the center of this split. We have the biggest gap between the rich and the poor of any city in the Bay Area.

Of course, the simple explanation is that we’re the rich city most tolerant of also including some less-well-off residents, which can be construed as being praiseworthy. We’ve even had a historic commitment (now in the process of being breached) to adding a few less expensive units to our luxury condo developments and plush mini-dorm rentals which are being constructed downtown for U.C. students.

But by and large, the retail stores you see if you try to Shop Local are comfortable accommodations for the carriage trade, for people who don’t have to sweat the disposition of their purchasing dollars. Even our student population, once considered low-income, is increasingly drawn from more privileged segments because costs have gotten so high. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Making a Mess Even Messier: Evicting Occupy Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday December 21, 2011 - 02:12:00 PM

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-


Bounce: Good Vanities

By Joseph Young
Wednesday December 21, 2011 - 05:34:00 PM

Odd Bodkins: Santa

By Dan O'Neill
Wednesday December 21, 2011 - 05:28:00 PM

Public Comment

New: Occupy Berkeley: Where It is Now

By Thomas Lord
Wednesday December 21, 2011 - 12:27:00 PM

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-

New: Bill Bahou and the Roxie Deli Need Your Help

By Donna Mickelson
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 09:52:00 PM

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-

New: Vandals Paste Gingrich Quote on Berkeley Rabbi's Home

By Rabbi Michael Lerner
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 09:38:00 PM

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-

Oil Company Advertisements and the Propagation of Malaise

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 07:28:00 AM

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-

Judging the Monterey Market: Another Point of View

By Ruchama Burrell
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 09:35:00 PM

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-

Judging the Monterey Market

By Jordan Rosenberg
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 07:42:00 AM

Monterey Market, primarily but not only a produce market, has been a Berkeley institution for decades. The produce is fresh, the varieties endless, the prices low. -more-