The Week

This postcard was sent to a Berkeley resident's [now blanked out]address.
This postcard was sent to a Berkeley resident's [now blanked out]address.


Alert: Police Activity in the 3300 block of MLK Jr Way. Avoid the area

Berkeley Police Department
Wednesday September 04, 2019 - 01:57:00 PM

h Martin Luther Jr Way is currently closed for all vehicle and pedestrian traffic between 61st Street and 62nd Street—northbound MLK Jr Way traffic is being held at Adeline Street. -more-

Life before Vaccines: Growing up in the 1930s and 40s

Margot Smith, Dr.P.H.
Saturday August 31, 2019 - 11:05:00 AM

Medical science has profoundly changed our lives. I am sure that I would not have survived to this old age without antibiotics, advances in epidemiology and surgery.

I was a child in the 1930s. We lived in a flat across the street from my grammar school playground and I had friends in the neighborhood. It was a time when parents simply said “Go out and play” and we did. Our games were hopscotch, kick the can, jacks, tag, jump rope, handball and hide and seek. We cruised on roller skates and bikes, and built club houses out of boxes in vacant lots. We were supposed to come home at twilight, before dark. The milkman, bakery truck and iceman delivered to our doors. We felt safe in our neighborhoods.

But my parents were fearful of epidemics. At school In first through 8th grades, I had classmates who suffered from scarlet fever, mumps, measles, German measles, chicken pox and whooping cough. I had rubella and had to stay in bed for several days in a darkened room; they thought light bad for sick children’s eyes. Several of these diseases required the family to put a quarantine sign on their door; their children missed a lot of school.

As an adult, I knew survivors—men who could not father children because they had mumps as a child, a woman with a flail arm from polio, people with chicken pox scars, those deafened because of measles, a man who spent 3 years in a tuberculosis sanitarium and a woman whose child was retarded because she had German measles during her pregnancy. I have friends who had polio then who now have post-polio syndrome, that is, muscle weakness, fatigue, and pain, for which there is no known cure. They experienced their illnesses before vaccines and antibiotics. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin Launches Campaign for Re-Election

From Noah Finneburgh
Wednesday August 28, 2019 - 04:47:00 PM

Mayor Running on His Record of Progress on Housing and Homelessness, Announces Endorsements from Key Leaders

Today, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin launched his 2020 campaign for a second term. -more-



Homes Become Commodities in
the Financialized Global Housing Market

Becky O'Malley
Friday August 30, 2019 - 02:18:00 PM
These [now blanked out] pictures from Google showed the street view and the view from above at the recipient's address.

There has been a lot of discussion online and to a certain extent in print recently about what is commonly called California’s housing crisis. It’s easy to see widespread homeless tent cities immediately adjacent to multi-story apartment developments in progress and imagine that the problem will soon be solved. But it’s not that simple.

Albany City Councilmember Michael Barnes sets the scene this way:

“To focus exclusively on California’s “housing crisis” obscures as much as it illuminates. The issues are far broader, and require a more informed and democratic discussion of how much California should grow, and how it needs to change to adapt to its future. Those are the issues our legislators and all Californians should be discussing.”
Today we will try to shed some light on what’s happening by working our way through several illuminating recent attempts to explain what’s going on from the local government perspective.

Though there’s a lot of information, clicking on all the links below will be the best way of understanding the latest version of the perennial ongoing attempts to re-jigger California law to benefit developers and speculators.

Michael Barnes posted a detailed analysis of the imbalance between jobs and housing which is contributing to the situation, complete with excellent graphs, which can be found on his blog here.

From the perspective of local government, Susan Kirsch, founder and former president of Livable California, a statewide housing activist group, in an essay on the Cal Matters web site, says this:

Certain bills introduced by Sens. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, and Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco would weaken elected city councils’ planning authority and financial stewardship, and ultimately deepen the affordability crisis.”

How did we get where we are today? Is Nancy Skinner representing the interests of her district, or perhaps instead the interests of the Facebook dynasty as embodied in something called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative?

For a definitive in-depth analysis of one facet of the concerted effort to transform California housing policy which is backed by Chan/Zuckerberg among others, Berkeley commentator Zelda Bronstein has produced a comprehensive long report , which was first published in full on San Francisco’s can most easily be read in four parts on The Marin Post: -more-

Public Comment

Council Watch: Jesse and Rigel's Climate Change Travel Adventure

Thomas Lord
Friday August 30, 2019 - 04:29:00 PM

The proposed agenda for the September 10, 2019 City Council meeting includes an item titled Approval of One-Time Reimbursement for Sister City Visit to Gongju, Republic of Korea from Mayor Jesse Arreguín and District 7 Council member Rigel Robinson. The two Council members propose using up to $6000 of their "office budgets" to send a delegation to Berkeley's new sister city Gongju.

Apparently there has been some question as to whether or not the trip is a permitted and appropriate use of office budget funds and so the item appears on the "Action Calendar" for discussion before a vote.

What I'm struck by is that the Council member's agenda packet memo contains this section:


I wonder how the Council members think their entourage will travel? -more-

Anger over Trade Policies Intensifies

Jagjit Singh
Friday August 30, 2019 - 04:37:00 PM

Farmers are voicing mounting anger over Trumps erratic trade policies. Many Midwestern farmers have slipped into bankruptcies unable to sell their products in established markets like China. Widespread flooding has killed cattle and left many fields waterlogged. Once again Trump has trapped himself and our nation into a proverbial cul-de-sac unable to admit his trade policies are a failure. Many fruit farmers in California have slid into bankruptcy unable to sell their products blocked by new tariff barriers. A chronic shortage of fruit pickers caused by Trump’s draconian immigration policies has driven up food prices. Unpicked fruit is allowed to rot on trees. -more-

Tweets, Tariffs & Turmoil

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday August 30, 2019 - 04:28:00 PM

It is becoming increasingly apparent to many Americans that Donald Trump is becoming more and more delusional. His bizarre tweets have little to do with market stability and everything to do with trying to project a “tough guy” persona. The wild gyrations of the market are a direct reflection of his trade wars with China which show no signs of abating. President Xi Jinping is unlikely to back down and appear weak to his domestic audience especially given the increasing turmoil in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Trump has flip/flopped repeatedly unable to cobble together a coherent policy. In a rare of truth he admitted having second thoughts about his trade policy but then abruptly changed his mind promising more punishing tariffs. -more-

The Mysterious Death of Prisoner #76318-054

Gar Smith
Friday August 30, 2019 - 04:14:00 PM

When it comes to conspiracy fodder, it's hard to abstain from the Epstein Rumor Feast. Even before Jeffrey Epstein's dramatic end on August 10, people were predicting his doom. -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: No One Hands You a Purpose - You Decide on it Yourself

Jack Bragen
Friday August 30, 2019 - 04:09:00 PM

If you ask most mainstream Americans, what is their purpose in life, many would answer, "raising my kids." Some might answer, "Saving up money, going on vacations." Some might answer, "Just living." Many people have many purposes, and often they are related to family. In other instances, people have life ambitions related to their careers. There are some people whose life purpose is to practice their religion. And some might find purpose in accumulating wealth. These are all very valid purposes. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Dealing with the Trump Cult

Bob Burnett
Friday August 30, 2019 - 04:12:00 PM

Four weeks have passed since the El Paso Walmart shootings and Donald Trump's incredibly insensitive response. During this period the nation has witnessed multiple episodes of Trump's bizarre behavior. His judgment -- always questionable -- has evaporated. As a consequence, many Americans have concluded that Trump is incapable of fulfilling the duties and responsibilities required of the President of the United States. But some, most notably the Trump cult, continue to support him. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Trump, The Chosen One

Ralph E. Stone
Friday August 30, 2019 - 04:19:00 PM

Playing politics along religious lines, Trump said, “Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people [Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) & Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.)] over the state of Israel?” -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday August 30, 2019 - 04:18:00 PM

Way to Go, Joe

When it comes to reducing polluting plastic in food packaging, Trader Joe's is making steady progress. TJ's groovy grocery gurus boldly announced plans to eliminate a million pounds of plastic from their 2019 waste stream and they are now on track to removing 4 million pounds of nasty plastics—annually.

Styrofoam trays for meat are being swapped out for recyclable PETI trays. Say goodbye to plastic flower bags; say hello to bags fashioned from compostable materials. And there's an on-going purge of plastics from TJ's Deli, Frozen, Fresh, Grocery, and Produce aisles. AOK, TJ!

A World without Forests, Rivers, and Chocolate?

A few years ago, I predicted "a sign of the approaching End Times": I'd know the end was near when I walked into a grocery store and found they were selling chocolate-covered potato chips.

Well, the Apocalypse must be near because Trader Joe's is now offering bags of chocolate-coated chips AND packets of chocolate-covered popcorn.

Meanwhile, scientists are warning that chocolate has joined elephants and tigers on the Endangered Species List. -more-

Arts & Events

A Piano Recital at Berkeley’s Maybeck Studio

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday August 30, 2019 - 04:33:00 PM

As part of the 2019 San Francisco International Piano Festival, on Saturday afternoon, August 24, Berkeley’s Maybeck Studio for the Performing Arts hosted a piano recital featuring two artists — Jiyang Chen and Albert Kim. In the first half of the recital, Jiyang Chen performed an eclectic mix of works by Handel, Chopin, Mompou, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff. After a brief intermission, Albert Kim performed Serge Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 8 in B-Flat Major, Op. 84. -more-

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, Sept. 1-8

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Friday August 30, 2019 - 05:19:00 PM

Worth Noting:

City Council September 10th Agenda is available for comment, list of agenda highlights follow upcoming City meetings.

3rd Annual Ride Electric Event is Saturday, September 14, 11 am – 3 pm, Event includes Electric vehicles and e-bikes,

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Labor Day Weekend - No City meetings or events found

Monday, September 2, 2019

Labor Day Holiday

Tax the Rich Rally, with music by Occupella, 5 – 6 pm at the Top of Solano in front of the Closed Oaks Theater, Rain/Extreme Heat Cancels

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board – Eviction/Section 8 Committee, 4:30 pm, at 2001 Center St, Law Library 2nd Floor -more-