Senator Elizabeth Warren, candidate for President, speaking at Laney College in Oakland
Senator Elizabeth Warren, candidate for President, speaking at Laney College in Oakland

Page One

Elizabeth Warren’s Oakland Town Hall Meeting

Glen Kohler
Saturday June 01, 2019 - 10:04:00 AM

Elizabeth Warren is an American missile aimed at the heart of the economic and social injustices perpetrated by laissez-faire capitalism. She is a mixture of hard headed realism, eminent pragmatism, and passionate idealism: articulate, personable, engaging, and completely focused on the ills of this country and how to solve them.

Warren’s demeanor when she spoke at Laney College on Friday was natural and unassuming as she recounted her early life and her career: teaching disadvantaged children, studying law, and teaching business and banking law at the university level. Getting fired from her job teaching children by a male principal for being visibly pregnant. Running for office; winning her Senate seat. -more-

Using Debt Collectors' Tools, Local Activists Hope to Erase Over $1,000,000 in East Bay Medical Debt

JP Massar
Sunday June 02, 2019 - 12:05:00 PM

Strike Debt Bay Area, a small activist group devoted to abolishing unjust debt, has achieved its initial goal of being able to eliminate $1,000,000 of medical debt owed by low and no-income East Bay residents.

Medical debt is a particularly pernicious form of debt. Savoring the pun, it is akin to rubbing salt into an open wound. Those unfortunate enough to be stricken with cancer, to have their child need expensive medical care, or to get into a debilitating accident frequently then find themselves with the added, impossibly stressful burden of an insurmountable debt, harassed non-stop by debt collectors seeking to squeeze anything they can out of someone already down and out.

Medical debt in America is a staggering problem: almost one out of every five Americans has unpaid medical debt on their credit report ( In 2016, hospitals across the United States were facing about $38 billion in uncompensated care ( Behind every single unpaid medical debt is a human story. And behind every unpaid medical debt is a collection industry whose sole source of profit is, and whose continued existence relies on, a sufficiency of such debt and human misery.

If you're unfortunate enough to be a person who gets calls about unpaid bills, here's what you may not know: those calls very likely don't come from the person you owe. Instead, they usually come from debt collectors who bought your debt from its original source. In the case of medical debt, hospitals and doctors' offices generally sell the debt as soon as they've determined that you're not going to pay promptly. They sell it to "high end" debt collectors, who will harass you and see if they can get you to pay. If they can get you to pay then they get all the money you owe, minus the money they spent to buy your debt. If they can't get you to pay - usually because you simply don't have the money - they'll sell the debt further down the debt collector chain -- for less money -- and someone new will start harassing you and see how successful they are at getting you to pay. So they have fewer successes, but they paid less for the debt, so they get to keep more of whatever debts they do collect.

Unless you are a business set up exactly by specific rules, you can't buy your own debt that way. And you can't buy Aunt Fatima's debt that way either. That's where RIP Medical Debt comes in. -more-

Woman Killed in Fiery Collision in Downtown Berkeley

Kathleen Kirkwood (BCN)
Saturday June 01, 2019 - 03:16:00 PM

A 36-year-old woman killed in a crash Friday night in Berkeley has been identified as Luvette Monarque of North Hollywood, the Alameda County Coroner's Office said Saturday. -more-

Public Comment

When Did California Politics Lose Its Common Sense?

Bob Silvestri
Thursday May 30, 2019 - 10:13:00 AM

In the wake of the postponement of a vote on SB 50, until January 2020, there has been a flurry of articles lamenting its fate. But, I’ve yet to read one in the mainstream media that says anything negative about the bill itself. Their focus is pretty much about placing blame and shame on those who opposed it.

In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, The revenge of the suburbs: Why California’s effort to build more in single-family-home neighborhoods failed, reporter Liam Dillon concludes that the reason SB 50 failed was due to opposition from “suburban homeowners” (the new dog whistle to allege rich, white elitism). His title is eye-catching, but is without substantive facts or understanding of the underlying issues and economics (it reads as if Liam may be an aspiring screenwriter).

Am I implying that everyone opposed to SB 50 has noble motives or reasonable arguments? No. Am I saying that there aren’t people who are elitists or are just categorically against all change? No. Am I saying that there isn’t selfishness or racism in the world? Of course not. You don’t have to look too far to find xenophobes, homophobes, phobo-phobes, or worse. But, to conflate all that with middle class, suburbanites is just laughable and sophomoric.

The LA Times article conveniently avoids mentioning that SB 50 was officially opposed by numerous inner-city, community groups and the state’s two largest cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles, who have more political clout than all the suburban towns combined. The city councils and planning departments of other large cities such as Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose, and San Diego, also did not endorse SB 50.[1] At the same time, it was also opposed by many small cities and counties, evidenced by the fact that the League of California Cities opposed it.

These are not minor considerations. In fact, the major support for SB 50 came from Senator Wiener’s political allies and his funders in tech, real estate and trade unions, all of whom stood to benefit, directly.

That is why SB 50 failed. It didn’t solve the problem, the majority of those in local government knew it, and it probably would have made things worse. It’s really that simple. -more-

Facebook money and California housing

Zelda Bronstein
Thursday May 30, 2019 - 04:02:00 PM

How Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are funding a shadow government that’s shaping California and Bay Area housing policy

On January 24, 2019, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the limited liability company founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and funded by a lifetime pledge of 99 percent of his Facebook shares (he’s given $3 billion so far), announced that CZI had helped to launch the Partnership for the Bay’s Future, “a new kind of public-private housing partnership….aimed at helping to solve the interconnected challenges of housing, transportation, and economic opportunity.” The website of the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative promotes charitable giving, although it’s really not a charity.

Joined by the Ford Foundation, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, other big philanthropies, and Facebook itself, the Partnership had already raised $280 million, with plans to assemble a total of $500 million over the next five years.

According to one account, the Partnership for the Bay’s Future “grew out of CZI’s interest in housing and an initial funding commitment” of $50 million. Ten of those millions will go to a “Policy Fund” led by the San Francisco Foundation that, the Partnership website says, will be disbursed to counties, cities, and community groups in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties to “protect families and individuals burdened by high rents…, preserve and produce affordable housing” and “enable more Bay Area residents to remain in their communities.”

Lost in the buzz of acclaim that greeted the Partnership’s founding was the fact that CZI had already donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to nonprofit organizations that have used their grants to shape public housing policy for the Bay Area. Those donations are not secret; they’re listed on the CZI website; and the foundation’s broader interest in housing policy has been noted in the media.

What hasn’t been reported:

Some of CZI’s biggest grantees are promoting policies that, stated intentions notwithstanding, will inflate land values, boost rents, and force many of the Bay Area’s most vulnerable residents out of their homes, while instituting and reinforcing undemocratic forms of governance that benefit Big Tech and Big Property Capital.

These CZI grantees often collaborate. They have clout in Sacramento, manifest in bills such as SB 50 (Wiener), SB 330 (Skinner)—both endorsed by Facebook—and AB 1487 (Chiu), endorsed by CZI, and their contractual and informal relationships with state agencies.

Public records we have obtained show that this shadow government is being facilitated by CASA (the Committee to House the Bay Area), the secretive, ad hoc entity that officially operated under the auspices of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission from June 2017 to December 2018, and whose members continue to lobby Sacramento, in at least one case with public funding from MTC. -more-

Song of the Private Out-of-Town Developer

Carol Denney
Thursday May 30, 2019 - 03:57:00 PM

To the tune of "Oh, Suzanna"

oh, I come from Alabama to develop People's Park

and from what I've heard the chancellor say it's going to be a lark

well they brought me here to monetize these priceless public lands

and privatize your landmarks while your mayor sits on his hands

Chorus: oh, Suzanna, oh don't you cry for me

I'll be out of here as soon as I destroy your history


Kali Yuga

Jagjit Singh
Friday May 31, 2019 - 10:05:00 AM

The US and much of world is sinking into what the Hindus call Kali Yuga, the period when the “World Soul” is Black in hue; only one quarter of virtue remains, which slowly dwindles to zero at the end of the Kali Yuga. People turn to wickedness; disease, lethargy, anger, natural calamities, anguish and fear of scarcity dominate. The Trump administration is a good example of Kali Yuga.

They continue to dishonor the basic tenets of Christianity by punishing “good Christians” who are helping the poor. The Good Book is replete with aphorisms of helping the poor yet the US border patrol has declared war on those who provide humanitarian aid to migrants. -more-

The Value of Zoos

Jack Bragen
Sunday June 02, 2019 - 11:26:00 AM

Zoos allow human beings to keep species alive that have become extinct or nearly extinct in shrinking and disappearing habitats in the wild, and where many of them are also subject to poaching.\ -more-

June Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday May 31, 2019 - 06:36:00 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-

Mindfulness, Survival of Humans, and Our Deficiencies

Jack Bragen
Friday May 31, 2019 - 10:12:00 AM

Learning to have a better quality of consciousness is a great aspiration. Doing this adds to the collective level of consciousness on our planet and contributes toward the possible survival of life on Earth. If we lacked mindfulness on our planet, and if we lacked other disciplines to improve the mind, such as psychology, people would be stuck in primitive, archaic and violent patterns, even more so than we are now, and we would not have made it this far without destroying ourselves. -more-


William Barclay Caldeira, 1968-2019
The Unnatural Circumstances of a Natural Death

Carol Denney
Friday May 31, 2019 - 01:47:00 PM

The third migrant child to die in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody in the last six months died last week sounding a national note of alarm. Around the same time Consider the Homeless Director Barbara Brust's informal count of homeless deaths in the past year on Berkeley's streets reached at least thirteen, one for every million dollars spent on the recent BART plaza renovation, and her grassroots outreach group held a candlelit memorial in their name May 14th on City Hall's steps. Her group took care to share their names, tell their stories, and dignify their lives.

That count just reached at least fifteen with addition of two more deaths, including that of William Barclay Caldeira, former commissioner on the Commission on Homelessness, who died May 20th, according to initial coroner's office statements, of natural causes in an ambulance on the way to a hospital. Friends including his appointer Councilmember Cheryl Davila held a memorial for him Friday, May 24th near City Hall to mourn his loss. -more-


Playing the Odds of March

Becky O'Malley
Friday May 31, 2019 - 06:26:00 PM

My Chronicle this morning included a photo of a billboard ad at 4th and Townsend for Elizabeth Warren exhorting us to “Break Up Big Tech”, complete with a texting address where you could add your assent to this sentiment. Unfortunately, this only adds to my conviction that Senator Warren was surely a great law professor, is an excellent senator and would be a terrific president, but she’s not the world’s most skillful politician.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve taken at least one of the courses and read at least one of the books and enough reviews of said books to convince me that anti-trust law is A Good Thing in principle. I could construct a narrative something along the lines of “anti-trust scrutiny of IBM made way for Microsoft and Microsoft’s anti-trust scrutiny made way for Google, but now Facebook seems to need some observation as an irresponsible monopoly” and so forth…but I won’t.

I could also argue the other side: that telephone service has gone to hell since the breakup of The Real AT&T (as opposed to its ineffectual namesake which is really Bell South) , and that AT&T’s monopoly position allowed Bell Labs to become a remarkable research center…but I won’t do that either.

Let’s just say that “Break Up Big Tech” is an excellent theoretical position with which I might even agree, but it’s a lousy South of Market billboard slogan. Many of those who will see it, Democratically inclined folks who work for those Big Tech companies and don’t know much about antitrust theory, might perceive it as a threat to their jobs. Many more might just wonder what it’s talking about.

If you have billboard bucks to burn, how about “Health Care for All”? Or “End Student Loan Debt”? or “Affordable Housing Now”? or “Free Child Refugees”? . “Break Up Big Tech” is not a wedge issue. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Trump’s Road to Armageddon

Bob Burnett
Friday May 31, 2019 - 10:02:00 AM

Just when we think that Donald Trump's behavior cannot become more bizarre, it does. On May 22, congressional leaders went to the White House, ostensibly to discuss a plan to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure; Trump walked out of the meeting, after throwing a temper tantrum -- saying he would not work with Congressional Democrats until they called off all investigations into his (alleged) high crimes and misdemeanors. Democrats aren't going to call off these investigations and Trump isn't going to work with Congress. So where does this leave us? On the road to armageddon.

The Federal Debt Limit expired on March 1st and, at the moment, the Treasury Department is using accounting gimmicks to pay the nation's bills. Experts say that this will only work until sometime in September-October. What will happen then?

Forbes Magazine ( ) explains: "When the [debt] limit is reached, the U.S. Treasury can’t borrow any more... severely impacting the real economy for fear the government would default on our debt.... Interest rates, already one of the fastest rising costs in the federal budget, will rise as the political crisis builds, because foreign borrowers will demand an additional risk premium. And rising interest rates will impact U.S. Treasuries, mortgages, credit cards, car loans, student debt, and corporate debt. If workers, households, students, and corporations can’t pay their bills because of the interest rate shocks, the economy could go into recession."

Judging by his increasingly erratic behavior, it's likely that Trump will hold the nation hostage over the Federal Debt Limit -- and the appropriations bill to keep government running (which comes due October 1st). Trump will issue an ultimatum, "Call off the investigations or I won't sign these bills." Even though his intransigence will be opposed by all congressional Democrats and most Republicans, Trump will refuse to compromise. In the process he will drag the United States over a financial cliff. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Dealing with Loss

Jack Bragen
Friday May 31, 2019 - 10:08:00 AM

One of the challenges in getting well and staying in remission is that of appropriately dealing with loss. Remaining out of the hospital involves a lot of self-management. This includes methods for dealing with emotional hard times. To stay well, a person with mental illness must be able to deal with the hard things that life brings, without going too far into an abyss of pain, yet without trying to sweep difficulties under a rug. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: National Animal Rights Day

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday May 30, 2019 - 03:59:00 PM

The 9th National Animal Rights Day will be celebrated on Sunday June 2, 2019. Let’s salute our non-human friends and companions.

Anyone whose family includes a pet knows that animals think and feel. In fact, a number of scientific studies has shown that animals are far closer to us than recently believed. The Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness in Human and Nonhuman Animals, signed by a group of leading animal researchers, asserts that mammals, birds and other creatures posses consciousness and, in all likelihood, emotions and self-awareness.

If we accept that animals are self-aware beings and have emotions, then this raises the question of whether we should keep animals in captivity (zoos), whether we should allow the cruel confinement and mistreatment of farm animals, and whether we should use animals for experimentation and research. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday June 01, 2019 - 03:08:00 PM

When it comes to former senator and war prisoner John McCain, Donald Trump just can't let go. Trump continues to speak ill of the dead. Now his petulant pettiness has peaked again following a dust-up over a reported White House request to further disrespect the departed Arizona Republican. Responding to press reports that the Navy had overruled a White House request that would have draped a tarp over the bow of the USS John McCain, President BoneSpur was left to sputter: "I didn't know anything about it! I would never have done that!" -more-

Arts & Events

Stunning Shostakovich 8th Symphony

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday June 02, 2019 - 11:01:00 AM

Dmitri Shostakovich may be at one and the same time both the most intensely political composer and the most intensely personal. In so much of his music – symphonies, trios, string quartets, operas – Shostakovich wrote musical meditations on the life of his country, the Soviet Union, and in doing so he also meditated upon his own difficulties in coming to grips with the political realities of his era, the Stalin years. Born in 1906, Shostakovich came of age after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. At age eighteen, he wrote his Symphony No. 1, presenting it as his graduation piece at the Leningrad Conservatory. With this success, Shostakovich burst on the scene as a much-heralded Soviet composer. -more-

Theater Review & Preview of Festival--'Orphelin 2.0' by Effervescent Théâtre de la Feuille of Hong Kong at the Ongoing San Francisco International Arts Festival

Ken Bullock
Friday May 31, 2019 - 10:22:00 AM

A bright, energetic theater troupe from Hong Kong, Théâtre de la Feuille, performed their own updated version of the ancient Chinese story 'The Orphan of Zhao' with brilliant mime and acrobatic ensemble work, all in the service of a fine, crystalized sense of storytelling, to open the first full weekend of two for the San Francisco International Arts Festival at Fort Mason on San Francisco's northern waterfront. -more-

Spectacular Eifman Ballet from St. Petersburg at Zellerbach Friday to Sunday

Ken Bullock
Friday May 31, 2019 - 10:21:00 AM

Cal Performances closes its 2018-19 season by featuring the spectacular Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg with 'The Pygmalion Effect,' four performances from Friday at 8 through Saturday (2 & 8) to Sunday at 3. -more-

Vilde Frang Performs Elgar’s Violin Concerto

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday May 31, 2019 - 10:24:00 AM

Young Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang, who debuted in San Francisco in 2014 with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, returned to Davies Hall for three performances, Thursday-Saturday, May 23-5, with the San Francisco Symphony led by guest conductor Krzysztof Urbanski. I attended the Saturday, May 25 performance. Vilde Frang was featured as soloist in Edward Elgar’s Violin Concerto in B minor, Opus 61 (1910). For some reason, this concerto is rarely heard. It has only been performed here twice: once in 1985, and again in 1998, both times with Pinchas Zukerman as soloist. Though bursting with Romantic lyricism, it is also fiendishly difficult. -more-


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar:
Berkeley Public Meetings and Civic Events for June 2 - 8, 2019

Sunday June 02, 2019 - 11:04:00 AM

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Berkeley Historical Society presents --"Yeasty Times, the Experimental School Program"-- from 3-5 pm, at 1931 Center St. Moderated by Joanne Tien and with an expert panel discussion. Free admission and for more information --see:


The 16th Berkeley World Music Festival, noon – 8 pm, at People’s Park and throughout Telegraph Ave.; and Sunday Streets provides dance areas, crafts, with children’s activities each day, --see:

Roses in Bloom -an Acoustical Series, from 3 – 5 pm at the Rose Garden. -more-

Back Stories



Playing the Odds of March 05-31-2019

Public Comment

When Did California Politics Lose Its Common Sense? Bob Silvestri 05-30-2019

Facebook money and California housing Zelda Bronstein 05-30-2019

Song of the Private Out-of-Town Developer Carol Denney 05-30-2019

Kali Yuga Jagjit Singh 05-31-2019

The Value of Zoos Jack Bragen 06-02-2019

June Pepper Spray Times By Grace Underpressure 05-31-2019

Mindfulness, Survival of Humans, and Our Deficiencies Jack Bragen 05-31-2019


Elizabeth Warren’s Oakland Town Hall Meeting Glen Kohler 06-01-2019

Using Debt Collectors' Tools, Local Activists Hope to Erase Over $1,000,000 in East Bay Medical Debt JP Massar 06-02-2019

Woman Killed in Fiery Collision in Downtown Berkeley Kathleen Kirkwood (BCN) 06-01-2019

William Barclay Caldeira, 1968-2019
The Unnatural Circumstances of a Natural Death
Carol Denney 05-31-2019


THE PUBLIC EYE: Trump’s Road to Armageddon Bob Burnett 05-31-2019

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Dealing with Loss Jack Bragen 05-31-2019

ECLECTIC RANT: National Animal Rights Day Ralph E. Stone 05-30-2019

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces Gar Smith 06-01-2019

Arts & Events

Stunning Shostakovich 8th Symphony Reviewed by James Roy MacBean 06-02-2019

Theater Review & Preview of Festival--'Orphelin 2.0' by Effervescent Théâtre de la Feuille of Hong Kong at the Ongoing San Francisco International Arts Festival Ken Bullock 05-31-2019

Spectacular Eifman Ballet from St. Petersburg at Zellerbach Friday to Sunday Ken Bullock 05-31-2019

Vilde Frang Performs Elgar’s Violin Concerto Reviewed by James Roy MacBean 05-31-2019

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar:
Berkeley Public Meetings and Civic Events for June 2 - 8, 2019