The Week



Berkeley Lending a Hand in North Bay Fires

Mayor Jesse Arreguin
Thursday October 12, 2017 - 10:38:00 PM

I want to thank all of the Berkeley police and fire personnel who have spent the past four days helping our neighbors in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Napa and the surrounding areas. They have been going in rotating 12-person teams of police officers and a 3-person fire crews to help fight the fires directly. Staff from Emergency Services are also going out to help coordinate the massive undertaking of managing this large-scale disaster. Some of these people have themselves been impacted by this tragedy, yet they continue to work. -more-

Air Quality Map

Thursday October 12, 2017 - 01:14:00 PM

To check local air quality, see this map. -more-

Smoke Causes Flight Cancellations and Delays at SFO

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Thursday October 12, 2017 - 11:51:00 AM

Smoke from numerous wildfires in the North Bay is affecting visibility today at San Francisco International Airport, resulting in many delays and cancellations, an airport spokesman said.

As of mid-morning, 81 flights had been canceled and about 10 percent of flights were delayed an average of 30 to 45 minutes, SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said. -more-

Red Flag Warning Issued for Several Parts of Bay Area including Berkeley

Wednesday October 11, 2017 - 10:32:00 PM

Several parts of the Bay Area have been included in an expanded Red Flag Warning for most of Thursday, alerting residents of the high fire danger due to forecasted low humidity and gusty off shore winds, National Weather Service officials said today. -more-

AirBnb Hosts in Berkeley Will House Fire Evacuees for Free

Bay City News
Wednesday October 11, 2017 - 10:35:00 PM

Short-term rental platform Airbnb expanded their disaster assistance program to help hosts in Oakland and Berkeley shelter victims displaced by the North Bay fires, Airbnb officials said this morning. -more-

Appeals Court Declines to Reconsider Challenge to Berkeley Cellphone Warnings Law

Julia Cheever (BCN)
Wednesday October 11, 2017 - 01:35:00 PM

A federal appeals court in San Francisco today turned down an industry group's bid for reconsideration of the group's challenge to a Berkeley cellphone warning law. -more-

Spare the Air through the Weekend Because of Smoke from Wildfires

Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Wednesday October 11, 2017 - 01:24:00 PM

Poor air quality remains today throughout the Bay Area because of the North Bay wildfires, prompting regional air quality officials to extend a Spare the Air Alert and Health Advisory through the weekend.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District had issued the alert and advisory on Tuesday because of what it called "unprecedented levels of air pollution" caused by the several wildfires burning tens of thousands of acres in Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties. -more-

Northern California Tuesday Midday News Roundup

Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Tuesday October 10, 2017 - 12:37:00 PM

At least nine people have died and at least 1,500 structures and tens of thousands of acres have burned in several wildfires that sparked in the North Bay late Sunday and continue to burn without containment today. -more-

Updated: Berkeley Police Investigating Death of Woman in Homeless Encampment

Daniel Montes (BCN)
Friday October 06, 2017 - 04:00:00 PM

A woman believed to be 40 years old was found dead this morning at a homeless encampment near BART tracks in Berkeley, according to police. -more-

Conservatives File Civil Rights Suit against UC Berkeley Over "Free Speech Week"

Dave Brooksher (BCN)
Thursday October 05, 2017 - 04:14:00 PM

Attorneys representing a group of conservative students at the University of California at Berkeley have filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, claiming that university officials have violated their clients' First Amendment rights. -more-



America Needs to Face the Facts about Gun Violence

Becky O'Malley
Friday October 06, 2017 - 02:21:00 PM

After a gunman shot about 550 of his fellow Americans, killing more than 50 of them, the president of the United States announced that he is proud to be an American.

Well, I’m sure as hell not.

Yes, yes, he was praising the response of those who had the unenviable responsibility for mopping up after the catastrophe. But he was totally ignoring the abdication of responsibility by those who allow this kind of thing to happen more and more often in this benighted country.

That would be all of us, Fellow Americans.

With all due respect to the many voices who have tried to explain what went wrong this time, it just doesn’t matter why this particular individual did what he did, or how he was able to get away with it.

What might have made a difference?

Screening for “mental illness”? He passed with flying colors, but failing wouldn’t have predicted this anyway. Many, many, many Americans have some form of what might be called mental illness in ordinary language, but the vast majority of them are not potential mass murderers. You can’t spot ‘em that way.

Religious fanatic? Nope, though as many commentators have pointed out, if he’d been a Moslem that would be taken as the explanation. But he stayed away from religion.

PTSD? Never went near the military.

We are citizens of a country which is no longer fact-based, about mass killings as well as about many other topics which can be scientifically explained to the remaining few Americans who can still process information.

It’s the guns, stupid. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Sending Letters to the Planet

Becky O'Malley
Friday October 06, 2017 - 03:41:00 PM

I've been getting copies of letters to the Berkeley City Council,especially on the budget, copied to my personal email address. I'm happy to see them, but if you want them published in our Public Comment section, be sure to address them also to so I know you want them published. Everyone should also be aware that letters to the City Council become part of the public record, so I can legally post them on this site if I want to, though I usually prefer to get the writer's permission. -more-

Public Comment

Double Hit to Puerto Rico

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday October 06, 2017 - 03:35:00 PM

Puerto Rico was hit with a devastating double whammy. Hurricane Maria and a president asleep at the wheel who reacted with anger and meanness at having his golf game disturbed by the “mayday calls” from the San Juan mayor. Trump tweeted with racially inflected insults accusing the islanders of being lazy and “wanting everything to be done for them rather than helping themselves.” -more-

Why We Are Dying Prematurely

Harry Brill
Friday October 06, 2017 - 03:32:00 PM

If we take any hundred year period, we know that the mortality rate is always near 100 percent. However, in the short run the variations are considerable. Life expectancy rates vary between nations, within nations, and among the different populations within any nation. Moreover, so much is coming at us that it is difficult to figure out exactly what particular assaults on our body did us in. -more-


Toni Mester
Friday October 06, 2017 - 03:09:00 PM

The FBI is having a hard time figuring out why Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of country music fans enjoying an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, killing at least 58 of his fellow human beings and wounding hundreds more. He was a seemingly sane healthy and wealthy white guy with an adoring girl friend, and he hadn’t converted to radical Islam. So what was his problem? Senator Dianne Feinstein wants us regular folks to weigh in on the problem of mass shootings, so here goes. Ms. America has her say. -more-

Berkeley Minimum Wage Now $13.75 Hour

Harry Brill
Friday October 06, 2017 - 03:06:00 PM

Good news finally. The Berkeley minimum wage was just increased to $13.75 per hour. Beginning next October, 2018 the minimum wage will rise to $15 per hour. The hourly wage will then be increased according to the cost of living index. Believe it or not the legislation was supported last year even by the conservative majority on the City Council despite the fierce opposition of the business community, including the very influential Chamber of Commerce. -more-

Berkeley Riots

Tara Patenaude, Auburn, MA
Wednesday October 04, 2017 - 02:56:00 PM

Months ago, I was watching a “protest” in Berkeley on TV. It had become volatile, with several fights breaking out, mace being sprayed and many businesses vandalized. While watching this take place, I watched as a man was being dragged away while being beaten up and realized the police were not interfering and standing off to the side until another man, who was later identified as Kyle Chapman, who was seen off to the side- appeared to realize what was happening, he paused for a moment then swung the sign/pole at the person dragging away his friend, the pole breaking upon impact. In that moment, I thought to myself that this guy is a hero for sticking up for his friend. -more-


ECLECTIC RANT: Remembering the Vietnam War

Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 06, 2017 - 03:18:00 PM

Watching the compelling documentary, The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, brought back memories of my time in Vietnam in 1967-1968. The Tet Offensive occurred during my service there; it was a defining event in the Vietnam War. Tet, by the way, is the Vietnamese New Year. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Martin Luther King Jr asked “Chaos or Community?”

Bob Burnett
Friday October 06, 2017 - 03:13:00 PM

Fifty years ago Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his last book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" Reading it again, in the hate-filled Trump era, brings the painful recognition that in many regards the civil rights struggle has stagnated for decades. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: A Shift in Accepted Thinking

Jack Bragen
Friday October 06, 2017 - 02:58:00 PM

Society has shifted as a whole, with the advent of continuous war and widespread electronic surveillance. In the past, thoughts that would have been considered "paranoid delusional" are now often passable as normal thinking--in fact, accurate. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Las Vegas Shooting Deja Vu

Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 06, 2017 - 03:57:00 PM

On October 1, 2017, 64-year old Stephen Paddock checked into a 32nd-story suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas and opened fire on an outdoor music festival below, killing 59 people -- including two off-duty police officers -- and hurting 527. Later Paddock killed himself. -more-

Arts & Events

A Perplexing San Francisco Symphony Concert

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday October 08, 2017 - 01:31:00 PM

Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbanski returned to San Francisco to lead the Symphony in two October programs featuring works of his native Poland. For the October 6-8 concerts, Krzysztof Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima led off the program, followed by Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 in E minor. Interestingly, and somewhat perplexingly, the only work that won my unreserved praise was Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. -more-