There are no longer any park benches at Berkeley's Triangle Park.
Carol Denney
There are no longer any park benches at Berkeley's Triangle Park.


Press Release: Berkeley Students Support Climate Walkout Tomorrow

From Pavini Sethi
Thursday September 19, 2019 - 11:59:00 AM

I am a UC Berkeley student contacting you on behalf of CALPIRG and Students for Climate Action to let you know about the Climate Walkout occuring on campus on Friday the 20th on Sproul Plaza from 9-12. During the walkout students will be rallying behind a list of demands which include: -more-

Up and Autumn! Global Climate Protests Begin on the Equinox

Gar Smith
Thursday September 19, 2019 - 12:04:00 PM

Happy Equinox

On September 23, in celebration of the onset of Autumn, Berkeley's traditional Equinox Gathering will be held at The Solar Calendar located high atop a hill at the César Chávez Park. Guests are invited to gather at 6 pm. Activities will start at 6:15 and conclude with the setting of the sun at 7:05

This year, the equinox falls during a week of worldwide climate protests (the Global Climate Strike—Sept 20-27) organized by the planet’s younger generation whose future survival is threatened by extreme weather changes already underway.

As Solar Calendar organizer Santiago Casal notes: "Global climate concerns tie in with Cesar Chavez’s and Dolores Huerta’s environmental activism" so this year's celebration will be held "in solidarity with Global Climate Strike . . . a week of many direct actions and confrontations. As we watch the sun drop toward the western horizon, Rabbi David Cooper will lead a series of interactive moments that will raise our consciousness about our planet’s relationship to the sun and its place within the solar system and within the cosmos." -more-

Flash: Triangle Park Protest

Carol Denney
Saturday September 14, 2019 - 10:27:00 PM
The art installation at Triangle Park was approved by the Berkeley Art Commission,

A small group of protesters is currently stationed at Triangle Park, the small, historically significant open space at the intersection of Dwight Way and Telegraph Avenue. The group stated their intent to protest the unnoticed midweek removal of a public bench. -more-

Public Comment

Trump Golfs While Dorian Pummels the US

Jagjit Singh
Friday September 13, 2019 - 03:43:00 PM

While Dorian victims were desperately trying to survive in the aftermath of one of the worst storms in US history, Donald Trump found time to play golf at his resort. The optics were devastating to even Trump’s most ardent supporters, many expressing outrage. Trump’s longtime nemesis, London mayor, Mayor Sadiq Khan reignited his long-running feud by accusing him of being grossly insensitive to the people of Poland and much of Europe by skipping the commemoration ceremony marking 80 years since the end of WWII.

Exposing alarming memory lapses, Trump insisted he had never heard of a Category 5 hurricane, forgetting that four prior hurricanes of the same insensitivity threatened the US on his watch. The racist Trump then falsely expressed alarm that the predominantly white folks of Alabama may be in the path of the hurricane hastily drawing up a map to repeatedly justify his false claims. The National Weather swiftly denied that Alabama was in any danger. At the same time Trump dismissed concerns for the brown-black people of the Caribbean. -more-

Free Pass for Guns?

Ron Lowe, Nevada City
Friday September 13, 2019 - 03:36:00 PM

Time magazine's August 19, 2019 cover listed the locations of 253 mass shootings in America so far this year. I wonder if Donald Trump's incendiary rhetoric has anything to do with these gun nuts going off the handle? Donald Trump is playing to these white gun crazies much like he is playing to the white religious Republican anti-abortionists, anti- gay crowd and anti-immigrationists.

Why are gun manufacturers shielded from liability in gun killings and crimes and getting a free pass while gun violence shakes the soul of America? -more-

Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday September 13, 2019 - 03:33:00 PM

Much like President Nixon’s false Vietnam narrative, both Bush and Cheney continued to mislead the American people falsely stating “we have the Taliban on the run.”

The invasion was a visceral reaction to 9/11. The war followed a familiar trajectory much like the disastrous Vietnam War. Thousands of Americans and a significantly higher number of Afghans have perished. Much like the bungled invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan is in utter chaos. Many veterans returning home are traumatized by the horrors of war.

Others returned in body bags in the dead of night away from the public eye on route to Arlington Cemetery.

According to “Stars and Strikes” 20 veterans commit suicide every day; others turn to drugs to ease the constant pain. After 18 years, the country has become so violent, American diplomats and other supporting personnel still rely on privately-operated helicopters to safely get around in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. The invasion was a horrible mistake. The Afghan government is thoroughly corrupt and many Afghans view the Taliban as lesser of the two evils. -more-

Guns Don't Kill: It's the Bullets

Gar Smith
Friday September 13, 2019 - 03:24:00 PM

In January 2008, during a botched gas station heist in Oakland, California, a would-be robber fired his 40-caliber handgun at a station attendant. All three shots missed. The first two rounds crossed a busy intersection and smashed through a parked SUV, barely missing the driver. The third bullet plowed through the wall of the Harmony Road Music School, striking a 10-year-old boy, who was in the middle of a piano lesson. The fifth-grader was left paralyzed from the waist down.

This tragic incident illustrates an often-overlooked fact of the gun-safety debate: it's not the guns that injure and kill—it's the bullets. And, too frequently, gunfire creates "collateral damage" with innocent men, women, and children hit by "stray" bullets. As even the National Rifle Association concedes: "A bullet from an errant shot or a miss may fly several miles before it impacts the earth."

The gun-violence debate must address the role of bullets. Blaming firearms without blaming the ammo is like blaming bows while ignoring the arrows—or condemning missiles without mentioning the warheads.

America is caught in the crossfire of a growing problem. According to the Small Arms Survey, one-fourth of Americans are now armed with 393 million firearms—46 percent of the world's privately held weapons. If these gun-owners were actually organized into a "well-regulated Militia," they would constitute an armed force nearly three times larger than all the national armies on Earth combined.

But not a single one of these weapons would pose a threat to human life—if it weren't for bullets. -more-


Whose Law is It Anyhow? For All, or Just for Some?

Becky O'Malley
Friday September 13, 2019 - 03:50:00 PM

Lately the San Francisco Chronicle has decided that the front page is the perfect place for events of earth-shaking importance, relegating the latest escapades of the oh-so-irrelevant Herr Dumpf to Page 6 or so. They especially like stereotypical Bezerkeley stories, out-there activities that could only happen in Quirky Berkeley, a genre so beloved that Tom Dalzell has gotten a couple of books out of it, presumably making the Chron jealous.

But the sad truth is that Berkeley is rapidly trying to morph into Silicon Bedroom, a homogeneous community populated by spandexed young folk who BART to San Francisco for work, bike to TJ’s for ready-to-eat dinners and use car shares with bike racks for recreational weekend trips to ride in unspoiled rural areas. It’s the perfect lifestyle for 20- and 30- somethings with no kids or dogs.

Not surprising, sometimes they’re in a tearing hurry to get around. That’s why, as reported by the Chronicle’s designated “Transportation Reporter” Rachel Swan, Berkeley cyclists cry foul over hefty fines for rolling through stop signs.

That would be $200 and up. Not only that, they’re being monitored by cops on motorcycles! Shocked, shocked, aren’t we?

The story prompted a flurry of heated comments in the usual venues: NextDoor, Twitter and others. People have strong feelings about bicycles, pro and con. Oddly enough, these tend to be related to age. Who knew?

Bicycle fanatics are not always aware that demographic trends point to an aging population as baby boomers mature. Even more, they’re not consistently conscious that they might be aging themselves.

What bike fans don’t understand is that us old folks were also young once. I’ve been young, but most of them have never been old, and believe me, it’s different. You’ll find out. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Trump’s Search for a Big Win

Bob Burnett
Friday September 13, 2019 - 03:17:00 PM

After a disastrous August, Donald Trump staggered into September. To some observers, Trump appeared to exhibit symptoms of a nervous breakdown; for example, spending a week defending his claim that Hurricane Dorian had threatened Alabama. He's cracking under pressure. Trump knows he is in political trouble. He's desperately searching for a big win.

On September 7, Trump called off a secret Camp David meeting with Taliban leaders, where he planned to sign an Afghanistan "peace agreement." This was Trump's ill-considered attempt at a big win.

In the 100 plus days between now and the end of the year, there are eight areas where Trump will search for political capital: the economy, foreign policy, gun control, government funding, healthcare/drug policy, impeachment, national security, and trade.

Impeachment: On September 12, House Democrats launchd a formal impeachment inquiry. Trump will not be able to make the multiple inquiries go away -- there's no big win for him with this situation. Instead, Trump will be subjected to more pressure, which will feed his desperate search for political capital. -more-


Jack Bragen
Friday September 13, 2019 - 03:14:00 PM

If mentally ill and working, taking a sick day when not feeling well could be appropriate, or it could be the beginning of the end.

In general, the expectations of most employers are that mental or psychological reasons for taking a sick day are not valid reasons. This is disablist. It does not acknowledge that if you are mentally ill, you might not be up for work on occasion. Mental illnesses in the minds of most employers are not really being sick. They believe that the employee is making excuses to get out of work. However, a flareup of mental illness is just as real and just as valid as influenza.

On the other hand, sometimes taking a sick day can lead to a breach of the basic discipline that allows us to show up for work. If we already have emotional difficulty showing up for a job, taking a sick day could lead to more sick days, and more. Taking a sick day, if work is challenging, might weaken the resolve to hang in there at one's job.

When I was a high school sophomore, I had a habit of taking one day off most weeks, toward the end of that year. I'd ask my mother to write a note, and she would do it. I'd already had a brother who'd been violently attacked by other students. He'd had to quit high school because of that.

High school is a completely different thing than the work world, however. Companies need to be able to rely on employees showing up--or they will be unable to function in business. They may be forced to efficiently eliminate those who can't be there on a daily basis. I've had jobs in which I had no sick days for six months to a year. This suited employers just fine. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday September 13, 2019 - 03:19:00 PM

Donald Trump has been called many things: The Orange Menace, The Grinch, The Lyin' King, The Reprimander-in-chief. But a recent New York Times article—on DJ's plan to end federal oversight of two mortgage behemoths—found a new and simpler moniker for the Oval Office resident.

In the September 8, 2019 edition of the S.F. Chronicle, the article's first sentence read: "The Trump has unveiled a long-awaited plan to end federal control of two mortgage giants." [Emphasis added.]

The online version of the story has been corrected to read: "The Trump administration has unveiled…."

Bye-Bye Bolton

National Security Advisor and warhawk extraordinaire John Bolton has been jettisoned by D. Trump. After praising Bolton for years—telling friends Bolton was “a killer” during his appearances on Fox News—Trump has given Bolton the boot. One contributing problem (shared by many and cited by several news organs, including TIME Magazine) "the president has voiced some unhappiness about Bolton’s trademark mustache."

NPR's report on Bolton's firing mentioned the president's reservations over Bolton's mustache. A New York Times article confirmed that Trump was reluctant to hire Bolton: "[O]fficials said Mr. Trump has hesitated, in part because of his negative reaction to Mr. Bolton’s walrus-style mustache." -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Gerrymandering after Rucho v. Common Cause

Ralph E. Stone
Friday September 13, 2019 - 04:35:00 PM

Gerrymandering is manipulating the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruled in Rucho v. Common Cause that federal courts cannot determine whether election maps are too partisan or gerrymandered. In other words, the Supreme Court ruled that the question is non justiciable by the federal courts.

This decision has raised the stakes for the 2020 election, leaving room for both parties to draw gerrymandered district lines with little fear of a federal court challenge gerrymandering. For example, In a major blow to Republicans who control the state legislature, a North Carolina State Court panel threw out North Carolina’s state legislative maps as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and ordered lawmakers to draw up new ones in two weeks. This North Carolina decision could serve as a blueprint for legal challenges in other states.

Otherwise it will be up to the individual states to create independent election commissions that use nonpartisan means to draw House districts. -more-

Arts & Events

A BILLY BUDD for the Ages

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday September 16, 2019 - 03:48:00 PM

I’ve seen quite a few productions of Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd in the past, including the first two — in 1978-9 and 1985-6 —of three prior productions at San Francisco Opera. I’ve enjoyed and learned something from each of these productions, as well as from those I’ve seen elsewhere. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a production until this one that effectively highlighted the intensity of the morality play inherent in Herman Melville’s unfinished novel of Billy Budd, and did so in Benjamin Britten’s strikingly idiosyncratic musical terms. In short, for me, this San Francisco opera production of Billy Budd, which opened on September 7, and which I attended on Sunday, September 15, is a Billy Budd for the ages. -more-


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, Sept.15-22

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday September 14, 2019 - 11:17:00 AM

Worth Noting:

Monday – The City Council Agenda and Rules Committee will be discussing the proposals for how City Council agendas are developed and City Council meetings are conducted. The Agenda and Rules committee will also discuss the plan for evaluating the City Manager – no performance evaluations has been completed since hiring January 9, 2015.

Tax the Rich protest rally celebrates its 8th anniversary

Wednesday – The Animal Care Commission is once again reviewing the number of dogs walked at the same time by one person (4) or (8).

The September 24 City Council Meeting Agenda follows the summary of weekly meetings and is available for comment email


The Coming Tax the Rich Celebration!

Harry Brill
Friday September 13, 2019 - 03:27:00 PM

Please join us this coming Monday, September 16th, 5-6pm, to celebrate the 8th year that the Tax the Rich group has been rallying weekly near the top of Solano Avenue. We are proud of our long term commitment and we are proud of our accomplishments. Working along with other progressive organizations we successfully achieved a minimum wage for Berkeley workers of $15 an hour that includes an annual inflation adjustment. Moreover, we won by a unanimous vote despite the conservative majority on the Berkeley City Council. Among our other victories was persuading the public to vote for an increase in taxes for the rich mainly for the purpose increasing funds for the public schools.

We are also proud that our movement has been a musical movement. Fine talented musicians play and sing with us every week. They bring joy to our efforts. Please bring your appreciation and enthusiasm and your voice as well this coming Monday to celebrate these special eight years. -more-

Back Stories



Whose Law is It Anyhow? For All, or Just for Some? 09-13-2019

Public Comment

Trump Golfs While Dorian Pummels the US Jagjit Singh 09-13-2019

Free Pass for Guns? Ron Lowe, Nevada City 09-13-2019

Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires Tejinder Uberoi 09-13-2019

Guns Don't Kill: It's the Bullets Gar Smith 09-13-2019


Press Release: Berkeley Students Support Climate Walkout Tomorrow From Pavini Sethi 09-19-2019

Up and Autumn! Global Climate Protests Begin on the Equinox Gar Smith 09-19-2019

Flash: Triangle Park Protest Carol Denney 09-14-2019


THE PUBLIC EYE:Trump’s Search for a Big Win Bob Burnett 09-13-2019

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Sick Days Jack Bragen 09-13-2019

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces Gar Smith 09-13-2019

ECLECTIC RANT: Gerrymandering after Rucho v. Common Cause Ralph E. Stone 09-13-2019

Arts & Events

A BILLY BUDD for the Ages Reviewed by James Roy MacBean 09-16-2019

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, Sept.15-22 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 09-14-2019

The Coming Tax the Rich Celebration! Harry Brill 09-13-2019