DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Dodging Nukes In South Asia

Conn Hallinan
Thursday March 07, 2019 - 02:10:00 PM

The recent military clash between India and Pakistan underscores the need for the major nuclear powers—the US, Russia, China, Britain and France— finally to move toward fulfilling their obligations under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Treaty’s purpose was not simply to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, but to serve as a temporary measure until Article VI could take effect: the “cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

The 191 countries that signed the NPT—it is the most widely subscribed nuclear treaty on the planet—did so with the understanding that the major powers would de-nuclearize. But in the 50 years since the Treaty was negotiated, the nuclear powers have yet to seriously address eliminating weapons of mass destruction.

While over the years the Americans and the Russians have reduced the number of warheads in their arsenals, they—along with China—are currently in the midst of a major modernization of their weapon systems. Instead of a world without nuclear weapons, it is a world of nuclear apartheid, with the great powers making no move to downsize their conventional forces. For non-nuclear armed countries, this is the worst of all worlds. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Rep. Omar’s comments and the House Failure to Debate U.S.-Israeli Relations

Ralph E. Stone
Wednesday March 13, 2019 - 02:13:00 PM

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) recently suggested that House supporters of Israel have dual allegiances. Her comments caused a furor. Whether her comments were anti-semitic is debatable. Ideally, this uproar was an excellent opportunity for a long overdue debate on our one-sided U.S foreign policy toward Israel. Instead, the House passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other bigotry. I fear this resolution will result in a chilling effect on legitimate speech activity. All criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic. -more-

The Oakland Strike Settlement Can Be the Beginning of Something Better for Oakland’s Students:

Peter Haberfeld
Wednesday March 13, 2019 - 02:23:00 PM

The goals of the recently settled Oakland teachers’ strike enjoyed unprecedented support by a coalition of teachers, parents, students and others in the community. Yet, the strike settlement merely promises modest improvements. Much more needs to be done to stop the deterioration of public-school education in our City. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Teachers to Rally This Evening at School Board in Advance of Contract Talks

Wednesday March 13, 2019 - 02:19:00 PM

Hundreds of educators and community members to take part in a 7:00 pm rally before the March 13th Berkeley Unified School Board meeting, affordability crisis for teachers and staff top concern.

n Wednesday, March 13th, hundreds of Berkeley teachers, classified staff, and school supporters will take part in a rally before the BUSD Board Meeting to show support for the upcoming contract negotiations between the Berkeley Federation of Teachers and the District.

“We love our jobs, we’re good at our jobs and we need to be able to afford our jobs” says Berkeley Federation of Teachers Vice President Matt Meyer, who is helping to organize the action. “As the Bay Area becomes less affordable, teachers and classified staff are moving further away or leaving the area altogether. Vibrant communities require a stable teaching force. When teachers are worried about their own financial stability, it becomes harder to serve our students. We want to be in BUSD for the long haul.” -more-

Philharmonia Baroque & Anne Sofie von Otter Offer Contemporary Works

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Wednesday March 13, 2019 - 02:17:00 PM

I It might seem at first glance a strange mix when Philharmonia Baroque presents a program of music by Handel along with contemporary music. Yet over the weekend of March 6-10, newly commissioned songs by American composer Caroline Shaw and short pieces by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt were offered side by side with works by George Frideric Handel and Henry Purcell. And strange to say, these disparate works spanning the centuries fit together extremely well at the concert I attended Saturday, March 9, at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church. -more-

Daylight Saving is Too Much

Bruce Joffe
Tuesday March 12, 2019 - 08:57:00 PM

Since changing to Daylight Saving Time last Sunday, media opinionators are talking about making it year-round. Permanent DSL is a terrible, dangerous idea. Setting the clocks ahead one hour moves an hour of morning light to the end of the day. That's great between March 21 and September 21, when there is more daylight than night. But for the winter-half of the year, we need more light in the morning when kids are going to school. -more-

Page One

Yes, It Was an Earthquake

Bay City News
Saturday March 09, 2019 - 10:29:00 AM

A 2.8 magnitude earthquake struck the Hayward Fault in Oakland late Friday, according to the United States Geological Survey. The quake hit around 10:41 p.m. and was centered near state Highway 13's junction with Lincoln Avenue. There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries. -more-

Public Comment

An Open Letter to the Berkeley Police Association

McGee-Spaulding Neighbors in Action
Saturday March 09, 2019 - 02:48:00 PM

On November 6th, 2018, despite a well-funded campaign of opposition, Kate Harrison was re-elected overwhelmingly as District 4 Councilperson, garnering a majority of votes and 17% more votes than her nearest opponent in a three-way race.

McGee-Spaulding Neighbors in Action is a group of some one hundred politically active residents in District 4. We write to express our extreme displeasure at the intervention of the Berkeley Police Association in an election which should have been - and ultimately was - decided by the residents of the District. This election should not have been influenced by members of an organization who overwhelmingly live outside the District, and, for the most part, are not residents of Berkeley.

If the Berkeley Police wish to obtain the respect of the residents they are sworn to protect and serve, then, as a professional association, we strongly suggest that in the future they disengage from local politics, respecting the wishes of Berkeley's residents as they pertain to police policy (and all other matters). While they should provide their professional opinion as to best practices and policies to the City Council, it is ultimately the choice of Berkeley’s residents through their elected officials what policing policies are appropriate for our City.

To put it bluntly the attack flyers opposing Councilperson Harrison mailed out and funded by BPA PAC (with some funding by the Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition) were disgusting. They consisted of little more than outrageous propaganda smears, half-truths, out-of-context takedowns, and emotive pictures and loaded-language appeals to fear and prejudice. -more-

Stephon Clark

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday March 08, 2019 - 10:53:00 AM

On March 18th, African-American Stephon Clark was brutally gunned down by Sacramento police in a hail of 20 bullets. The police justification followed a familiar theme. They claimed Stephan was holding a gun which turned out to be a cellphone. They failed to issue any warning or use nonlethal weapons.

In a clear effort to suppress incriminating evidence, the police officers shut off the audio of the video cam after killing Stephon Clark. And now we are told that the county’s district attorney will not file criminal charges against the two police officers who shot and killed him. Contrast how police responded to white domestic terrorists such as Nikolas Cruz, the mass shooter in Florida or Dylann Storm Roof, who gunned down the parishioners at the Mother Emanuel Church. In both cases they escaped being killed by police.

Let us hope a federal investigation will remedy this grave injustice. -more-


Code Enforcement Should Be a Tool, Not a Weapon

Becky O'Malley
Saturday March 09, 2019 - 12:51:00 PM

Ah, the police power of the state: a fearsome thing, often used for good but also, not.

Merriam Webster online says it’s the “inherent power of a government to exercise reasonable control over persons and property within its jurisdiction in the interest of the general security, health, safety, morals, and welfare except where legally prohibited.” What could be wrong with that?

The tricky bit is that the police power is often employed orthogonally, to punish some other sin which is not called out in the charges.

Example A: Notorious bank robber Al Capone was sent up not for being a bank robber but for tax evasion. No one objected very loudly, because…gangster!

Example B: Paul Manafort. Also convicted of tax evasion, to be sent up for about 3 years. Sentencing Judge Number One gave him a minimal sentence, though federal guidelines suggest 19-24 years, because he’s viewed as a first offender, though he’s been engaged in this particular crime for ten years. Reasonable people tend to believe he’s done more bad stuff without getting caught—that this tax evasion is only the tip of a much larger iceberg.

Remember, the case against him fell out of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, though what he’s been convicted for so far has not much to do with Russia. But tax troubles will keep him off the streets for a while, and his next trial may produce a longer sentence.

If you don’t like crooks, these are two good examples of how police power can produce desired results. But there are plenty of bad examples too.

Right here in Berkeley we have one, a bad example of how the government’s police power can be used for the wrong goals. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Trump and the Economy

Bob Burnett
Friday March 08, 2019 - 10:31:00 AM

600 days before the 2020 presidential election, it looks like the two major issues will be Donald Trump and the U.S. economy. Of course, this could change if Trump leaves office or there is a cataclysmic climate event. Otherwise, the election will be determined by voters' feelings about Trump and, of course, how they view their economic prospects. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Psychotic Reactions to a Criminal Government

Jack Bragen
Friday March 08, 2019 - 10:34:00 AM

Following the 2000 contested election of George W. Bush, it was hard for progressive Americans to imagine a worse scenario of the wrong President becoming elected. The late George H. W. Bush, if I recall correctly, at one point lamented that his son had made it harder for more Bushes to be President. Bush "senior" had believed Jeb would be better, if I remember correctly.

Yet, look at how things have turned out!

Trump is a formidable threat to the American way of life, and gravely jeopardizes the future of the U.S. When those of us who are already mentally compromised see this unfold, it is hard to not have our symptoms worsen as a result. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday March 08, 2019 - 10:38:00 AM

Boy, Did Datebook Blow It!

What was the San Francisco Chronicle thinking when it put the new female face of Capt. Marvel (Brie Larson) on the cover of the Datebook section with a headline that read: "Girl Power Surge"?

I'm pretty sure that if Datebook ever featured a cover story on Batman, Superman, Ironman, or the Avengers, the headline wouldn't read: "Boy Power Surge."

But the Chron's Headlines Still Top the News

Just to let the headline writers at the Chronicle know their work is not going unappreciated, here's a sampler of groan-worthy puns tucked into some of the paper's recent headlines.

Why US whiskey is on the rocks

Tree crisis at root of furor over ficus

How to get high-speed rail back on track

How state plan for bullet train went off track

Hospital mergers haven't been so healthy

Swim palace finally reopens with splash

Martha Stewart is high on CBD

Meltdowns keep Warriors from cooking

The new data hogs: China firms use tech to combat deadly swine disease

Bow hunter, once a target, strives to lure public to sport

Bard gives homeless stage for expression

And my favorites (both for Datebook theater reviews):

"Moby" proves it's not a fluke

Delivery tarnishes "Mother Courage"

Outta Sight -more-


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, March 10-16

Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday March 09, 2019 - 01:02:00 PM

Berkeley Public Meetings and Civic Events for March 10-16

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Join Mayor Arreguin and Council member Rashi Kesarwani for drop-in “office hours” on Sunday,

March 10, from 4-6 pm at the Urban Adamah, at 1151 Sixth St. (in District-1).