The Week



ECLECTIC RANT: Kudos to Meryl Streep

Ralph E. Stone
Monday January 09, 2017 - 04:31:00 PM

During the Golden Globes, actress Meryl Streep called out Donald Trump for ridiculing a disabled reporter at one of his campaign rallies. Her comments should remind us that Trump's appeal was and is to America's base instincts. The "make America great again" really means taking America back to a time when discrimination of Blacks was rampant, women knew their place, all Muslims were terrorists, the mentally ill were locked away, the physically disabled kept out of sight, and homosexuals knew enough to stay in the closet. -more-

Patrick Kennedy Promotes Stacked Coffins for the Homeless (Public Comment)

Aldo Moreason (Grace Underpressure)
Monday January 09, 2017 - 09:58:00 AM
Coffins are an efficient way to use space, as cemetery staff have known for centuries, so this is very green.

Stacked coffins and storage containers may seem like a startling solution to homelessness, but Panoramic Interests press liaison and communications consultant David Friedlander says it’s the logical step for a city which simply wants to stay on the market rate real estate gravy train.

Critics were outraged that the San Francisco Chronicle gave editorial space to what was essentially a commercial for developer Patrick Kennedy’s Panoramic Interests’ most cynical ploy to date, forcing the poor into stacked shipping containers and coffins utilizing San Francisco’s anti-tent and anti-sitting legislation.

“This isn’t green; tents are green,” fumed one local camper. “What idiot camps in a stupid coffin?”

“Dead people do,” pointed out Friedlander, noting that “you never hear complaints from them about it, either.”

“Stacked shipping containers may not be everyone’s first choice for a home,” acknowledged Friedlander, “but neither is the Millenium Tower anymore.” -more-

A modest proposal for Democrats (Public Comment)

Christopher Adams
Monday January 09, 2017 - 10:00:00 AM

Many readers of the Planet are probably also readers of the online New York Times and may have seen the charts published January 3 about the presidential vote. They showed that compared to support for Romney in 2012 support for Trump from voters with incomes of $30,000 or under increased by 16% and that compared to support for Obama in 2012 support for Clinton from voters with incomes of $200,000 or more increased by 8%. Further, they demonstrated that Trump’s tax plan will be beneficial to high-income Clinton voters and inconsequential to low-income Trump voters. The charts are yet another instance, among many already discussed by pundits, of how Trump voters seem to have sabotaged their own self interest. A similar phenomenon was spun into a book a few years ago by Thomas Frank entitled What’s the Matter with Kansas? What’s less discussed is why liberals also vote against their own self interest. The book yet to be written might be titled What’s the Matter with Marin County?. -more-

Berkeley suspects sought in carjacking

Jade Atkins (BCN)
Saturday January 07, 2017 - 02:55:00 PM

Three people were arrested and one suspect is still at large following an attempted carjacking and robbery in Berkeley early Thursday morning, according to police. -more-

Suspect in Berkeley homicide now in custody

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Sunday January 08, 2017 - 02:53:00 PM

A suspect in a Berkeley homicide on Friday is in custody, police said today. -more-

Could there be a “Trump Tower” in downtown Berkeley? (Public Comment)

Steven Finacom
Sunday January 08, 2017 - 12:16:00 PM
A graphic representation of the proposed “Sky Deck” signage atop Downtown Berkeley’s highest building. Under current City staff interpretations, this could just as easily read “Trump Tower”

Did that provocative headline get your attention? I hope it did.

The good news is that there is not—yet—any such proposal for a building emblazoned with signage saying “Trump Tower” looming over Berkeley. -more-

Berkeley Police seek stabbing and homicide suspect

Alex Kekauoha (BCN)
Saturday January 07, 2017 - 02:57:00 PM

Police in Berkeley are searching for a man suspected of a homicide and the stabbing of another individual on Friday. -more-

Press Release: With massive storms expected, prepare!

Matthai Chakko, Press officer, City of Berkeley
Friday January 06, 2017 - 03:14:00 PM

With storms expected to bring heavy rains this weekend, the City of Berkeley has been preparing. So should you.

  1. Clean on and around your property as needed: gutters, rain downspouts, driveways, culverts, trash and debris around fences and gardens, and clear basement drains.
  2. Check submersible pumps and sump pumps to make sure they are operating properly.
  3. Ensure you have flashlights or portable lamps and batteries on hand in case of a power failure.
  4. Program PG&E's power outage number into your phone (1-800-743-5002). This is the best number to call to find out about power outages and when the power is coming back.
  5. Berkeley residents with identification can pick up sand bags at the City Corporation Yard on 1326 Allston Way, Mon - Fri, 8am to 4pm. Residents must show I.D.
For further guidance on how to prepare, the City's Community Emergency Response Team has prepared guides on how to prepare for your pets' safety, power outages as well as a guide for floods and landslides.

Public Works staff will be working throughout heavy storms, day and night. City staff will be available to deal with downed trees or flooding affecting local homes, businesses or streets. In an emergency, they can be reached by dialing 311 on a mobile phone or landline. If outside the city, call 981-2489. Crews will be dispatched and respond as quickly as possible. -more-

Oakland's Homeless Program is better than Berkeley's

Shane Brodie
Friday January 06, 2017 - 03:34:00 PM

Oakland is showing real leadership among Bay Area cities by starting a pilot program which extends garbage collection to homeless camps. Cities like SF and Berkeley are purposefully using their neglect of basic sanitation to force our opinion about health hazards at these camps. Oakland's pilot program is a good start to working with these camps in a compassionate and realistic way, instead of just razing them and disposing of camping gear. -more-

Press Release: Statement From Congresswoman Lee on Voter Disenfranchisement and the Challenge of Electoral Votes

Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Friday January 06, 2017 - 03:24:00 PM

Washington, D.C. – Today Congresswoman Barbara Lee joined with Representatives Sheila Jackson-Lee, Maxine Waters, Raúl Grijalva, Jim McGovern, Pramila Jayapal and Jamie Raskin in formally challenging the certification of the electoral votes of several states and released the following statement: -more-



Updated: Kennedy/Maio Team is BAACKK in Berkeley

Becky O'Malley
Friday January 06, 2017 - 02:58:00 PM

One of the wisest things one of my wise-ass teenage daughters ever said to me was that “unsolicited advice is rarely welcome.” That’s not only true of teenagers, it’s true in spades of elected officials. When they’re running for office, they’re all ears, but when they’ve succeeded in getting elected they’re sure that all of their ideas must be right, and they don’t need you to tell them what to do.

My computer screen and even my print publications these days are full of advice on what our progressive leaders can/must do to combat Donald Trump, so I’m not going to go there today. The obvious problem is that until you know which Trump will be tweeting at you in any given moment, you can’t figure out what to do. Everyone’s just shooting arrows into the air, with no real idea where the target is.

It’s much easier for those who have been around the local track more than once to give unsolicited and possibly unwelcome advice to those who have been newly elected locally with our support. The hugely over-quoted George Santayana observed that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. The new mayor and some city councilmembers because of their age or lack of involvement missed some tricks in the city’s past history, so we feel obliged to inform them about what they can’t remember.

Exhibit A: I received this communication from a reader who is a longtime Berkeleyan: -more-

Let's put the J back in JOY!

Becky O'Malley
Saturday December 31, 2016 - 07:26:00 PM

A premature Happy New Year to everyone. Even though the holiday lights above our door say "Oy" instead of "Joy", it's really not as bad as it seems, trust me. As I've been telling my granddaughters, I can remember many, many years where we said that the exiting year was so bad, the next one couldn’t be worse: 1968, for example, when Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated. And yet it didn’t get unequivocally better…or worse…in 1969, just different.

Then there was 2000, the year the Supreme Court stole the presidency on behalf of the Bushes. We went to DC with our dear friend Patti Dacey to march on the Court in the snow and ice. The weather in DC is really nasty in January, and this was freezing rain. The good thing was that I ended up marching there alongside a woman from Detroit who has also marched with us in the Detroit version of the original March on Washington, and we agreed that some things had gotten much better since then in the civil rights arena. The bad thing, which we didn’t foresee, is that Patti died a few years later, too young, but isn’t it always too young?

And of course, W stayed, but the world survived him somehow.

A friend of German/Iranian background, with vulnerable family members both in Iran and here, asked me apprehensively if I knew what I would do if there were a real fascist takeover of this country, as some are predicting. She wondered what she would be able to do, and I wonder about myself too.

I’ve heard tales of what happened when Japanese-Americans were taken away by a not-even-fascist U.S. government, and I’ve also heard that some of us, though not most, did stand up for what they weren’t even calling then “America values”. My children had an African-American teacher at Berkeley High who told her students how her family took care of the property of Japanese-American neighbors while they were imprisoned, and a friend of my parents did something similar in Watsonville. Wayne Collins, the attorney father of a Berkeley lawyer with the same name, defended the civil rights of the detainees during and after World War II. If the next administration takes out after Moslems, would we be able to do as well as they all did back then? I hope so. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Don't Miss This: petition against raids on homeless.

Wednesday January 11, 2017 - 02:53:00 PM

Berkeleyans and others are asked to sign this petition against raids on homeless settlements. -more-

Don't miss these.

Sunday January 01, 2017 - 11:40:00 AM

These came in last week and are quite interesting. If you missed them amidst the holiday shuffle, be sure to check them out now.

The Play’s the Thing … (aka Capoeira Politics) Steve Martinot 12-28-2016

New: Something happened on the way to the book tour Carol Denney 12-26-2016 -more-

Patience Please!

Saturday December 31, 2016 - 07:33:00 PM

This issue is moving slowly. I still have some letters etc. to post, but I'm relaxing with family and friends until Tuesday. -more-

Public Comment

New: Drumpf's Nominee for labor secretary is a bad choice

Sergi Goldman-Hull
Monday January 09, 2017 - 04:37:00 PM

I wanted to take a moment to explain why Andrew Puzder, President-Elect Trump's pick to lead the Labor Department is a BAD CHOICE! Here's why… -more-

The pension scandal: the great betrayal

Harry Brill
Friday January 06, 2017 - 03:38:00 PM

The pensions for about 1 1/2 million retirees, except for retirees who are at least age 80 or who receive disability, will soon be cut by up to 60%. The cuts apply to retirees whose unions have the same collective bargaining agreement with at two or more employers, which cover more than 10 million workers. These workers have defined benefit plans in which an employer promises a specified pension payment upon retirement that is based on a worker's history rather than depending on an individual's investment returns. The justification for slashing the pensions in firms that have multi-employer contracts with unions is that these pension funds will soon be depleted. So it is necessary, the employers claim, to reduce the pensions now to assure that retirees would at least receive some income. -more-

Bay Area Jews Held Mock Trial Outside San Francisco Jewish Federation

Penina Eilberg-Schwartz
Friday January 06, 2017 - 09:47:00 PM

Early Friday morning, 25 Bay Area Jews and allies held a mock trial outside the offices of the San Francisco Jewish Federation, challenging the institution on two counts of moral bankruptcy: its silence on the appointment of David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel and its support for 50 years of Israeli Occupation. The mock trial included actors representing the prosecutor, defense, and four witnesses: the San Francisco Federation, David Friedman, Stephen Bannon, and a representative of IfNotNow’s #JewishResistance.

The action -- one of six happening across the country this week and next -- came in response to a national call made by IfNotNow, a diverse national movement of American Jews working to end the American Jewish community's support for Israel’s Occupation. IfNotNow demanded that all local Jewish Federations and their parent organization, the Jewish Federations of North America, publicly denounce the appointment of Stephen Bannon by the last night of Hannukah, December 31st. The San Francisco Federation did share a partner organization’s statement condemning the appointment of Stephen Bannon. However, it remained silent on the appointment of David Friedman as US Ambassador to Israel. -more-

Crony Capitalism under Trump

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday January 06, 2017 - 09:59:00 PM

A number of US corporations have adjusted their strategies hoping to gain more favorable treatment under a Trump administration by nourishing his enormous ego. For example, companies like Sprint seem content allowing Trump to take credit for their decision to hire more workers. Predictably, he tweeted with great gusto boasting that the Sprint CEO would hire 5,000 more workers in the US. Largely ignored is the fact that SoftBank, Sprint’s parent company, made a commitment to invest $50 billion and create 50,000 new jobs in the US in October - before the election. The insecure Trump thanked himself profusely for an increase in a consumer confidence index last month. More grist for ‘Saturday Night Live’. -more-

Nixon’s Treachery

Jagjit Singh
Friday January 06, 2017 - 09:56:00 PM

The recent release of archives from the Nixon library reveal a man obsessed with power who would willingly allow thousands of Americans and Vietnamese to die in the pursuit of the US presidency. -more-

How to get the news to that fellow

Katherine Liepe-Levinson, Martin H. Levinson
Friday January 06, 2017 - 09:54:00 PM

Donald Trump insists he does not need to listen to daily intelligence briefings. But anyone knowledgeable about foreign affairs knows that he puts our country at risk by not doing so. Therefore, we offer five ways to help Trump get over his briefing aversion: 1) Videotape the briefings as if they were News Talk Shows with Hail to the Chief playing in the background. 2) Arrange to have them read by CIA agents dressed up as beauty contestants in swimsuits. 3) Make a deal that if he reads the briefings Chris Christie will drop to the ground and give him ten. 4) Send the briefings to Putin so he can read them to Trump. 5) Tweet them to him at three am. -more-

Stand up to the Republican thugs

Ron Lowe
Friday January 06, 2017 - 09:51:00 PM

It's right here in the newspapers if you are wiling to take the time and dig it out. Hillary Clinton is winning the 2016 presidential election by 2,670,075 votes and yet media is still calling loser Donald Trump the next president.The nation's top intelligence officials and CIA say unequivocally and emphatically that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump has voiced skepticism about the conclusion. Of course he would: Putin and Russians worked on his behalf to skew the election. -more-

What is coming next year?

Romila Khanna
Friday January 06, 2017 - 10:02:00 PM

The clock is moving too fast. We will get the New Year message from the billionaire in the White House. Some of us are worried about receiving adequate and timely information about our country and our own safety and wellbeing. -more-

Mayor Arreguin's First 29 Days - Still Sweeping the Homeless, or Honey, This Ain't Camping

Carol Denney
Saturday December 31, 2016 - 05:25:00 PM

Excerpt from Mayor Jesse Arreguin's "First 29 Days" progress report with emphasis and underlining added:

..."Regarding the “First They Came for the Homeless” Encampment

I have received many emails from neighbors throughout Berkeley regarding the ongoing protest tent encampment which has moved throughout Berkeley. These encampments have not been sanctioned by the City and staff have taken enforcement action based on complaints from residents. Camping on public property, including medians, is illegal under the Berkeley Municipal Code. City staff can take complaint driven enforcement action regarding any violations of the Municipal Code. Unlike other cities, Berkeley’s Charter does not give the Mayor executive authority to hire or direct staff. As Mayor, my role is to shape city policy and work with the City Manager to implement city policies and initiatives. I do not alone have the unilateral power to direct staff to enforce, or not enforce, violations of the Berkeley Municipal Code..."

So, is the Mayor of Berkeley just a helpless pawn in a larger political game played by a city staff hoping to thwart his objectives and court losing their jobs? Are they a bunch of evil people hoping to snatch blankets from the poor because it's just such great sport on a cold winter night?

Berkeley's new Mayor just issued a self-congratulatory "progress report" claiming that the City Manager is impervious to his direction. It's true that Berkeley has a strong city manager form of government. but there are lots of things Arreguin can do both as mayor and as a citizen, especially under the emergency housing crisis declaration which the city council (under Mayor Tom Bates) passed last January.

The City Council under Mayor Arreguin, at its first meeting Dec. 12, 2016, had language stopping the homeless sweeps removed from a lengthy proposal doubling shelter space, among other things. Apparently somebody realized they only had four votes since District 7 Councilmember Kriss Worthington inexplicably pulled his vote away. They wanted to look unified at their first meeting, and the proposal still had some good stuff. Calling Worthington to express dismay (981-7170) is a good idea, but building wider support to stop the homeless raids and accept that we need immediate housing and several campgrounds is key, since people have concerns about people setting up tents all over the city anywhere they like, which is pretty much the state of things anyway. And which is legal, absent alternatives, under many readings of the law. This is not camping, as Mayor Arreguin's statement claims. It is survival.

The answer is having both immediate emergency housing within Berkeley city limits as well as sanctioned camping areas with port-a-potties, laundry facilities, garbage collection, etc., without which complaints are almost inevitable. The homeless people I know are not only better organized than most of the people I know with housing, they do a better job of taking care of indigent mentally ill on the streets than the city's current answer; the police, the court system and its pointless, expensive revolving door. -more-

January Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Thursday January 05, 2017 - 03:05:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money.

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: California vs Trump

Bob Burnett
Friday January 06, 2017 - 03:36:00 PM

On election day, Californians favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a near 2 to 1 margin -- 61.7 percent to 31.6 percent. Now, faced with a President many of us detest, California's best stance is to become a model of Democratic principles. But the Golden State faces intriguing challenges.

California is not an independent state; we're not going to be able to secede from the union. Nonetheless, we are the 6th largest economy in the world and Trump is not going to be able to ignore us.

California can have the most impact on the national political environment by demonstrating that the best way to grow good jobs and provide a healthy democratic environment is by a judicious combination of taxes and regulation. The Golden State can serve as a vital alternative to the Republican model: minuscule corporate taxes and zero governmental oversight, which has turned states like Louisiana into sewer pits with deplorable public health, while failing to create the promised jobs. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Karma, Coincidences, and Paranoia

Jack Bragen
Friday January 06, 2017 - 03:21:00 PM

People with paranoid schizophrenia frequently suffer from delusions of conspiracy. Some of this might be narcissistic, but most is due to a malfunction in the brain. People who suffer from paranoid illnesses do not really have much choice about this tendency. The brain has a design flaw, and nobody can run away from his or her brain. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: UN vote on Israeli settlements

Ralph E. Stone
Friday January 06, 2017 - 03:47:00 PM

I for one applaud the U.S. abstention of the United Nation resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal. By abstaining the resolution passed. It doesn't seem to matter to some that under international law, it is illegal for Israel to move settlers into the occupied Palestinian territories. -more-

5 Resistance Resolutions

Bob Burnett
Saturday December 31, 2016 - 07:24:00 PM

As we enter a perilous new year, here are five resistance resolutions:

1.Practice resistance each day. Political resistance is an American tradition; "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Take a stand for democracy. Slow down and focus. Resist.

If you've experienced a life-threatening disease, the process will be familiar. Live one day at a time. Focus on the essentials: taking care of yourself and regaining your health. Trump is a democracy-threatening disease. Focus on taking care of yourself and regaining democracy.

Perhaps begin each day with an aphorism: "I am a patriot;" "Actions speak louder than words;" "It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end;” "I will not let Trump defeat me." Whatever works for you.

Follow with a simple act of defiance. For example, resolve to not listen to news for 24 hours. Resolve to add another name to your "Boycott Trump Donors" list. Join a march or demonstration. Send $ to the resistance. Etcetera.

Above all, resist the Trump propaganda machine that repeats lies over and over until many Americans believe they are the truth. Resist the "normalization" of Trump. What is happening is not normal; America is experiencing a right-wing coup. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Giving Oneself a Break from Self Persecution

Jack Bragen
Saturday December 31, 2016 - 05:30:00 PM

While many of us are making an effort at making our lives better and at living in a responsible way, none of us can control the outcome of our efforts. We ought to feel proud of ourselves when we make a good effort toward a constructive goal or endeavor. However, when our efforts seem to be futile, when the outcome isn't what we had hoped for, we ought not berate ourselves.

If mistakes are made, if we slip up on something, one hopes that at least that the intent was where it ought to be. If an error is made, we ought not punish ourselves with negative or self-derogatory thoughts.

If we have symptoms that get in the way of fulfilling expectations, whether these are self-imposed expectations or come from someone else, we ought not blame ourselves. Persons with psychiatric disabilities may often have days in which we do not feel good, or do not feel up to doing very many tasks. -more-

Is global warming a Chinese hoax?

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday December 31, 2016 - 07:21:00 PM

President-elect Donald Trump has called climate change a Chinese hoax, vowed to dismantle America's climate and clean energy policies, and appointed climate deniers with ties to the fossil fuel industry to his transition team and Cabinet.

For example, Trump is looking at quick ways of withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement in spite of international backing for the plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. At the Paris climate conference in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal, which sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C. The U.S. signed the agreement on April 22, 2016. I fear this will be but the beginning of Trump's reversal of policies designed to curb global warming. -more-

Arts & Events

Updated: Berkeley CCO presents Requiems by Mozart and Cherubini

James Roy MacBean
Monday January 09, 2017 - 04:25:00 PM

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra presented three concerts over the weekend of January 6-8 at Hertz Hall. Featured were Mozart’s famous Requiem and the less well-known but highly acclaimed Requiem in C minor by Luigi Cherubini. BCCO’s Music Director Ming Luke conducted the Mozart Requiem at the Saturday concert I attended, while Assistant Conductor Eric Choate led the Cherubini Requiem. -more-