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Thousands Protest Ann Coulter in Berkele

Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday November 20, 2019 - 10:51:00 PM

Protesters surrounded a University of California at Berkeley auditorium on Wednesday evening in an attempt to disrupt a speaking engagement by conservative author Ann Coulter. 

Organizers estimated that thousands of people turned out to protest. At least seven people were arrested. University spokesperson Dan Mogulof said that he did not know what the protesters were arrested for as of about 10 p.m. Wednesday.  

One of the protesters was arrested inside the event. Atlas Winfrey, an organizer with Refuse Fascism, said that protester arrested inside the event, only identified as a woman, was with his group. He said she spoke out twice during the event, saying that she was opposed to misogyny and racism and demanding the removal of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence from office. 

Coulter "wants to build a wall; we want to welcome in immigrants," Winfrey said. Winfrey said that some ideas that Coulter disseminates, such as that white people are being replaced by racial minorities, have origins in fascist ideology. 

"People are recognizing that Ann Coulter is a fascist and recognizing the connection between her and the people who are in the White House," Winfrey said. 

The event was organized by the Berkeley College Republicans, a campus group that sponsored a series of public speaking events in 2017 that led to controversy. 

The group invited far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to speak, but it was violently shut down. Coulter was scheduled to speak later that year, but did not amid concerns about safety. 

On Wednesday the protesters started gathering outside Wheeler Hall at about 7 p.m., where the event was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. 

"Ann Coulter out of the bay, immigrants are here to stay," the demonstrators chanted. 

While they attempted to prevent people from entering the auditorium, the protesters vowed to remain non-violent, though there was instances when shoving broke out between the counter-protesters and people attending the event. 

The protesters swarmed around orange barricades outside the building, blocking the only entrance and trying to prevent attendees from getting in. Some people attending waded through the hostile crowd looking for a way in, while protesters pointed and yelled, "Don't let them in!" 

Many did manage to get inside by hopping the barricades with assistance of police. Mogulof could not provide attendance figures as it was not a campus-organized event. 

At least one person needed medical assistance. A person suffered an apparent medical issue. A man was carried out from inside the barricades and taken away in a medic cart, but Mogulof did not know if they were the same person. 

Protesters stayed outside of the building through the night. When the speech ended, attendees left while guarded by lines of riot police that kept the protesters at bay. 

Many of the attendees tried to avoid interacting with the protesters. But some taunted them from behind police lines, including a man in a Make America Great Again hat, who took a selfie with the police and protesters in the background.

At Least 7 Arrested at Ann Coulter Speaking Event

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday November 20, 2019 - 10:46:00 PM

At least seven people were arrested as hundreds of protesters gathered on the University of California at Berkeley campus Wednesday evening to protest a speaking appearance by conservative author Ann Coulter. University spokesperson Dan Mogulof said as of about 10 p.m. that he did not know what the protesters were arrested for. One of the protesters was arrested inside the event. 

The protesters started gathering outside Wheeler Hall at about 7 p.m. The event was scheduled to begin inside at 8 p.m. 

"Ann Coulter out of the bay, immigrants are here to stay," the demonstrators chanted. 

The protesters swarmed around orange barricades outside the building, blocking the only entrance and trying to prevent attendees from getting in. 

Some people attending waded through the hostile crowd looking for a way in, while protesters pointed and yelled, "don't let them in!" 

Many did manage to get inside by hopping the barricades with the assistance of police. Mogulof could not provide attendance figures as it was not a campus-organized event. The event was organized by the Berkeley College Republicans. 

At least one person needed medical assistance. A person suffered an apparent medical issue. A man was carried out from inside the barricades and taken away in a medic cart, but Mogulof did not know if they were the same person. 

Another speaking event organized by the campus Republicans featuring Milo Yiannopoulos was violently shut down by protesters in 2017. 




Superheros Come to the Capital

Becky O'Malley
Friday November 15, 2019 - 08:36:00 AM

On Thursday morning I woke up to listen to an obviously intelligent man speaking on my bedside radio in full sentences using occasional big words and teaching me a lot I didn’t know about what we used to call “The Ukraine”. That would be the modern struggling nation of Ukraine, whose capital, now Kyiv, is what we used to transliterate as Kiev. And Trump’s henchmen, Rudy, Lev and Igor, had recently been detected hanging out there.

There was a time, when I was taking the Russian History course and/or reading Russian literature, that I fancied I knew something about Kiev. All I’ve been able to remember recently, fifty years or so down the line, was the origin story about how Orthodox Christianity came to what we called Russia.

The star of that story was Prince (or Saint) Vladimir of Kiev, who round about the end of the first millennium decided that his “pagan” people needed to take up one of the Abrahamic desert religions to keep up with the modern world. He did the grand tour of Judaism, Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Legend has it that he settled on the last of these because when he visited the gorgeous golden-domed Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople (previously Byzantium, now Istanbul) and heard the sumptuous Greek liturgy “he didn’t know if he was in heaven or in earth.”

I’m not sure if I learned this in my history or my language/literature classes, and even that much I had to look up on Wikipedia to remember the names.

From my radio lecturer I learned a whole lot of new things, notably the recent history of the post-Soviet independent Ukraine, now separated from Russia, even though Prince Vladimir in his day ruled most of Russia. I turned on the computer to livestream what turned out to be the impeachment hearings, and learned a whole lot more.

Based on how George P. Kent explained his understanding of what’s happened lately regarding relations between the United States and Ukraine, at a guess I’d say he’s Clark’s younger brother. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see him step into a phone booth, remove his trademark bow tie and three piece suit, and leap into the air clad in spandex. I wasn’t at all surprised to see that he’d studied Russian history and literature some thirty years later that I did. Smart, articulate, well-educated, humane—in other words, the anti-Trump. In the movie, he’d be played by Jimmy Stewart, if he wasn’t dead. 

And his colleague, Ambassador William Taylor, could be played by Lionel Barrymore, or maybe an older Jimmy Stewart(still dead, however). He’s everyone’s dream grandpa, old, wise and brave, a breath of fresh air after all the bad press old white guys have been getting lately. 

What a pair. Maybe there’s hope for America after all. How many of these solid gold citizens are still left in the State Department? 

And today we saw a third one, a real Joan of Arc, fighting the good fight against corrupt oligarchs way out there in Ukraine while dastardly Trump and his evil minions plot to burn her at the stake, figuratively speaking. That would be Marie (born Marya?) Yovanovitch, Masha to her friends. She stands up straight, looks the nasty Republicans in the eye, and shows a sense of humor occasionally to boot. 

That is one of Bill Taylor’s best qualities too. When an evil twin, Nunes or Jordan, delivered an unusually ludicrous diatribe, the camera revealed Taylor struggling not to crack a smile. 

Being both retired and life-long political junkies at my house, we had no trouble consuming the whole fourteen hours or whatever the hearings added up to. (I got a lot of laundry sorted while I watched.) In a period dominated by the sordid antics of the likes of Trump and the loathsome Stephen Miller(outed this week by leaked emails which showed him to be a rabid white nationalist) watching Kent, Taylor and Yovanovitch speak truth to power was restorative. 

Not only were the heroes heroic, the villains were suitably villainous. The Repugs’ hired inquisitor, a man named, I kid you not, Castor, presumably after the Oil, had a narrow face which resembled a malicious ferret. Truthfully, the Dems’staff attorney was a bit ferret-like too, but their congresspeople were excellent: crisp, disciplined and to the point. 

At night, after the hearings were over, I’ve been reading John Le Carre’s brand new spy novel, a self-indulgent purchase of the latest from one of my all time favorites. It’s good, like his many previous works, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the real deal. My favorite moment so far is Bill Taylor revealing that one of the legendary 3 Amigos took a Trump call on an unsecured phone in a restaurant with three people listening (no, really?). Or perhaps, even though the intent was to intimidate, it was the revelation that the Tweeter-in-Chief was trying to bully Ambassador Yovanovitch in real time while she was testifying in front of a huge online international audience. 

Is he crazy? It’s times like this that you’re tempted to believe that the 25th Amendment is more relevant than impeachment. 

But don’t take my word for it. Watch the tapes on youtube yourself on the weekend. Better than most movies. 





The Editor's Back Fence

Wellstone Club State Endorsements on the Consent Calendar for Thursday

Monday November 18, 2019 - 09:36:00 PM

Here’s an interesting development. It’s almost a year until the next general election, and even the primary isn’t until March, but the officers of the powerful and occasionally leftish Wellstone Democratic Club seem to be holding an endorsement meeting this week. Endorsements at Wellstone have traditionally required candidate speeches, and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks was bitterly opposed within the club in her first primary, but not any more evidently.

The names of incumbents were placed on the organization’s no-contest consent calendar for the Tuesday meeting, and placed way down the bottom of their email meeting agenda. But if you do scroll waaaay down, here’s what you see:

Wellstone Club Meeting

Endorsements Meeting

Vote on local, state, federal, and party endorsements

You must be a member to vote, though non-members are welcome to attend.

Not sure if you're a member? Email us at info@wellstoneclub.org

Thursday, November 21

Humanist Hall; 390 27th St; Oakland

potluck at 6PM, meeting at 6:45PM


Consent Agenda for Endorsement

13th Congressional District: Congresswoman Barbara Lee

5th Supervisorial District: Supervisor Keith Carson

9th State Senate District: Senator Nancy Skinner

15th Assembly District: Assemblymember Buffy Wicks

18th Assembly District: Assemblymember Rob Bonta

Those of us who can bear to watch local politics when the national news is so hot might know that there’s a good bit of dissatisfaction with Wicks and Skinner because of their full-throated participation in Sacramento’s increasingly successful attempt to wrest control of land use away from cities and counties. A floor fight at Thursday’s meeting can be expected.

Public Comment

Bulldozers Threaten National Butterfly Project on Texas Border

Name Withheld
Saturday November 16, 2019 - 10:32:00 AM

It has just come to our attention that The National Butterfly Center needs your help. Please call your Representatives TODAY and ask them to investigate potentially illegal behavior by We Build The Wall, Inc, (Steve Bannon + Brian Kolfage) on the property immediately adjacent to the Center.

The National Butterfly Center is a privately owned 100-acre magical butterfly preserve along the Rio Grande River near Mission TX. A former onion field, it has been lovingly turned into an oasis of birdsong, native bees and butterflies. Lots of butterflies. But now Trump’s Wall threatens to take away a sizeable chunk of the property. You may have heard about their struggle in earlier news reports by CNN (video), The Washington Post (video), NPR, National Georaphic, and The Texas Observer.

If built The Wall will push 70%, or 70 acres, of the Center’s private property behind the barrier. Access to the river, an important source of drinking water for the region, could be cut off. Border Patrol will have the option of completing clearing all land between the river and the wall, installing bright security lights that shine 24/7, wreaking havoc on all the nature and animals that call that area home. Some may be pushed to extinction, like the ocelot which is already threatened.

Today the National Butterfly Center reposted to their Facebook page a video originally posted by “We Build the Wall”. (Scroll down to see the video.) It shows them bulldozing vegetation and clearing a road right down to the river’s edge on the 6,000 acre property immediately to the east of the Center. In the video the group states that they are taking matters into their own hands and will build the wall themselves. It is heartbreaking to witness the backhoe tearing up huge chunks of grasses at the river’s edge, destroying all life in its path. 

There's a new video about the situation. The outlet is called Border Report. Marianna, director of the NBC, takes a boat ride with a priest and reporter along the river to review the damage and discuss the illegal clearing in more detail. 


Theirs is an apparently illegal action and could do irreparable harm to the region. Please speak out! Call your State Representatives today and ask them to look into this alarming development. 

Barbara Lee: (202) 225-2661, Nancy Pelosi (202) 225-4965, Jackie Speier (202) 225-3531 - Buffy Wicks (619) 513-7913 (district), (916) 319-2079 (capitol) 

Nikki Haley

Jagjit Singh
Saturday November 16, 2019 - 10:23:00 AM

By vigorously defending President Trump as a “truthful person”, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has lost all credibility. She has abandoned her rich Sikh heritage in pursuit of financial and political goals. The core belief in Sikhism is speaking truth to power and of even of greater importance, - “truthful living”. She has failed on both accounts.

President Trump is the antithesis of the basic tenets of Sikhism and Christianity. His transgressions are truly staggering.

The current count of his lies is in excess of 12,000.

It’s puzzling why Ms. Haley, married with 2 children, ignores the terrifying experience endured by 25 women, including several credible accusations of rape by Mr. Trump.

Perhaps, Ms. Haley is comfortable with her former boss depicting immigrants as “rapists and criminals’ or his racist comments referring to Haiti and African nations as 's-hole' countries.

Then again, it appears Ms. Haley has conveniently ignored or forgotten Mr. Trump’s lewd comments denigrating women and boasting about his sexual exploits targeting young girls on the “Access Hollywood” tape.

Determined to remain on Mr. Trump’s good graces, she refused to criticize Mr. Trump when he told four Democratic congresswomen, three of them born in the United States, to “go back” to their home countries! In a further effort to pledge her fealty and devotion to Trump, Ms. Haley has betrayed her former colleagues in a crass effort to increase sales of her new memoir, “With All Due Respect”. She literally destroyed the reputation of real patriots , former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson and John Kelly, who had voiced concern Mr. Trump’s “harebrained policies” which they deemed to be a major threat to the country.

Ms. Haley’s nonchalant response to the impeachment inquiry -“do I think the president did something that warrants impeachment? No, because the aid flowed”. This is akin to an assassin firing a loaded gun at his target but being declared innocent because the gun misfired.

Ms. Haley’ convoluted logic is truly breathtaking. She admits the president may have tried to subvert national security for his own political end, but he failed, so where’s the harm? .


THE PUBLIC EYE:Ranking the Democratic Candidates

Bob Burnett
Friday November 15, 2019 - 08:32:00 AM

While the impeachment inquiry continues to command most of the attention of the mainstream media, in the background the Democratic presidential candidates continue their slog towards the February 3rd Iowa caucuses. Here's the BB perspective on how these candidates are doing. And a prediction as to what the race will look like coming out of "Super Tuesday," March 3rd. 

1.Elizabeth Warren: Massachusetts Senator Warren garners the number one slot for two reasons: she has the most momentum and she has "out wonked" all the other candidates. Elizabeth has a plan for everything stretching from the very serious (how to deal with global climate change) to the other extreme (how to get Americans to eat more vegetables). 

In addition to would-be-dictator Trump, Americans are beset by a frightening array of problems:, including climate change, wealth inequity, and cancerous capitalism. Senator Warren is the only candidate to have a well-thought-out plan on all of these. It's convenient to characterize Warren as a candidate of the left and others, such as Joe Biden, as a candidate of the "center," but the reality is that Elizabeth wants big change in American society and many of the other candidates -- such as Biden -- seek modest changes. The BB perspective: The U.S. needs big changes. 

2. Joe Biden: Former Vice-President Biden is a nice guy who was a worthy sidekick to Barack Obama. Can he run the show on his own? I'm not convinced. Biden seems old -- he'll turn 77 at the end of the month -- and lacking the energy required to run the big show. 

Some Democrats are attracted to Joe because he's a "safe" choice. They believe he's the most likely to beat Trump: The current Real Clear Politics poll of polls shows Biden beating Trump by 10.2 percent. However the same poll shows Warren beating Trump by 7.3 percent. So they both beat Trump -- and Biden has way more name recognition than Warren does. 

The election has two steps: beat Trump and fix America. Warren would do a better job on second step. 3. Bernie Sanders: Bernie doesn't seem to have the same fire that he did in 2016. He seems tired -- although not as tired as Biden, who is one year younger. Bernie has been "out wonked" by Elizabeth Warren. 

On October 1st, Senator Sanders had a heart attack. A month later, the attack doesn't seem to have slowed him down. Nonetheless, while his fundraising is ticking along, Bernie has slipped slightly in the polls. (For example, the latest New Hampshire Quinnipiac poll shows Bernie running behind Biden, Warren, and Buttigieg.) 

BB prediction: after losing the New Hampshire primary, Bernie will drop out and support Elizabeth Warren. 

4. Pete Buttigieg: So far, the big surprise of the Democratic presidential primary contest has been Mayor Pete. (In the second quarter, Buttigieg raised more money than all other Democratic contenders -- $24.9 million.) Mayor Pete is very smart and has a remarkable public presence. 

If Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are candidates of the left, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are "moderates." For those Democrats who initially supported Biden, and now think he is too old, many have shifted to Mayor Pete. (Who is 37; forty years younger than Biden.) 

BB prediction: After "Super Tuesday," March 3rd, Biden will drop out and the competition will narrow to Warren, Buttigieg, and the billionaires. 

By most accounts, Warren, Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg have more than 75 percent of the primary votes of Democrats. No other candidate has double digit support. Why? 

The women: Harris, Klobuchar, and Gabbard. Six months ago Senator Kamala Harris was a hot political property -- challenging Warren, Sanders, and Biden as a frontrunner. Now her support has greatly diminished. Two problems: Harris didn't give voters a clear reason to support her and she got out wonked by Warren and Sanders. 

I've expected Senator Amy Klobuchar to surge in Iowa. For "moderates" she seems like a good alternative to Joe Biden. Instead, Pete Buttigieg has taken this role. 

Tulsi Gabbard keeps hanging around. The "maverick" candidate. Some say that if Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, Gabbard will be his choice for VP. 

The billionaires: Bloomberg and Steyer. The big news this past weekend is that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has jumped into the race for the Democratic nomination. (He's the sixth richest person in the U.S.; one of our 2153 billionaires.) Bloomberg has good liberal credentials -- for example, his positions on climate change and gun control -- but he isn't an exciting candidate. 

For months San Franciscan Tom Steyer has been pushing for the impeachment of Donald Trump. (And for taking action on climate change.) HIs hearts in the right place but I don't see Steyer becoming a frontrunner -- the latest California Democratic primary poll shows Elizabeth Warren in 1st place with 27 percent of the vote and Steyer in ninth place with 1 percent. 

The "outsiders": Yang, Booker, and Castro. Andrew Yang is another "maverick" candidate -- who has gotten more traction than Tulsi Gabbard. Nonetheless, his national support continues to languish in the single digits. If Biden or Sanders falter, will Yang get more support? I don't think so. 

What's the story with Cory Booker? He does well in the debates but it doesn't seem to translate into more voter support. I expect Booker to drop out before Iowa. 

Several months ago, Julian Castro surged and then faltered. He's a candidate who looks better on paper than he does in person. I expect him to drop out before Iowa. 

(As this was being written, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick entered the New Hampshire primary. It's another indication that "moderate" Democrats aren't happy with Biden.) 


Summary: The competition for the Democratic nomination will come down to Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and activist. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net 

ECLECTIC RANT: Political Campaign Finance Law After Citizens United

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday November 16, 2019 - 10:29:00 AM

According to campaign finance watchdog Open Secrets, the final cost for the 2016 election was $6.5 billion for the presidential and congressional elections combined. The cost of the presidential race, including campaign committee and outside spending, was $2.4 billion. Congressional races totaling more than $4 billion.

President Donald Trump’s campaign cost almost $398 million, whereas candidate Hillary Clinton’s’s was more than $768 million. But as Trump was a constant focus of media attention, from July 2015 through October 2016, Trump received free media worth more than $5.9 billion. Clinton received less than half that figure, a little under $2.8 billion.

To curb these obscene campaign costs, in 2002, the bipartisan Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (“McCain-Feingold Act”) was passed to regulate the financing of political campaigns by prohibiting soft money contributions to national political parties, and limited campaign financing to hard money. Soft money is unlimited funding collected by political parties intended for party strengthening, while hard money is donations directly made to a candidate’s campaign. In addition, political parties could no longer directly fund election campaign advertisements with soft money contributions; they had to be paid for with hard money. The law also called for candidates to “stand by their ad.” This means a candidate, at the end of a campaign ad, must approve the message. 

On January 10, 2010, the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission invalidated the McLain-Feingold Act, and later in 2014 the Supreme Court in McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission struck down limits on overall federal campaign contributions.  

In the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court ruled that the "government may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker’s corporate identity." According to the Supreme Court, its ruling is a logical extension of a long line of decisions affording First Amendment rights to corporations, but was clearly a set back for campaign finance law. 


The Citizens United and McCutcheon cases cleared the way for super PACs, which allowed individuals and corporations to make unlimited amounts of contributions, as long as they are not directly working with campaigns and political parties. 


What is assumed in the Citizens United decision is that corporations are natural persons within the meaning of Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution and, therefore, have First Amendment rights.  


The Fourteenth Amendment states: 


"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." 


The corporate personhood legal concept has been codified: "In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise-- the words "person" and "whoever" include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals." 


How did a corporation become a natural person? Initially, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively to enable activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Corporate status enabled shareholders to profit and gave limited liability to directors, officers, and shareholders for the corporation's debts and obligations. For over 100 years after the American Revolution, legislators maintained tight control over corporate chartering.  


Then came the controversial 1886 Supreme Court decision in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. Although the Supreme Court supposedly did not make a direct ruling on the question of "corporate personhood," the misleading notes of a clerk finding corporate personhood were incorporated in the Court's decision. Whether this is myth or reality doesn't matter at this point because the Supreme Court has often cited this case for the proposition that a corporation is a "natural person." Thus, a precedent was set. 


The Santa Clara case became the basis for a long line of court cases giving a corporation personhood. It is now firmly embedded in the law and neither the Supreme Court nor Congress is likely to overturn 133 years of precedent. The corporate personhood debate now centers on what subset of rights of natural persons should also be afforded to corporations.  


Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United that would allow Congress to set reasonable limits on campaign contributions and independent expenditures and would allow – but not require – states to enact their own public financing laws. The chances of passage this polarized political climate is unlikely and outrageous amounts will continue to be required to run and win public office. 


Imagine how different the economic and political landscape of the United States would be without the Santa Clara County decision and its progeny. 

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Damage from Environments

Jack Bragen
Saturday November 16, 2019 - 10:38:00 AM

In the past twenty years, I've had numerous setbacks. Yet, these have been less severe than the setbacks of the preceding twenty years. The more recent ones did not include the need to be an inpatient at a psychiatric ward. My most recent inpatient stay (which was due to going off medication and becoming acutely psychotic) was in April of 1996. Additionally, most of the more recent setbacks have been caused by the actions and speech of other people. I haven't sabotaged myself very much in a very long time. 

When too many things are going wrong at once, it takes a toll. This piece is about how the brain is adversely affected by environments that are excessively demanding, stressful, and/or traumatic. When numerous things go wrong at once and when all of them must be addressed, we don't really have a choice about dealing with them. The effect of this may be residual damage to level of function. 

Sometimes it seems as though people are intentionally doing things to sabotage my progress. Yet, this belief borders on being a paranoid delusion, because I don't have direct evidence of the truth of this belief. I do know that life circumstances seem to heat up when I am on the verge of making substantial progress in the quest to improve my life conditions. 

Damaging environments tend to include a need to address several problems at once. If the environment did not incorporate the need to respond, then we would merely have a stimulus that we could learn to ignore or tune out. When you are up against hard things, and when there are several of these at once, it can cause a person to become overextended. When overextended, it creates vulnerability to deterioration in mental 'code'. 

The human mind has content in it. This is not a simple thing. The content of the mind comes from multiple sources and determines a wide range of functioning that a person manifests. Content determines what we say and how we say it. It determines how we regard pain and/or pleasure. It determines our decisions. It determines our behavior. 

If a computer is like the human brain, the code in that computer is like the content that the human brain carries. And, in my meditations, I sometimes use the term "code" to denote the material in my mind that I want to guard and maintain. 

Being pressured is not necessarily an illusion or a delusion. In some instances, the pressure originates from within. However, life situations can happen in which the pressure stems from difficulties in one's environment. Multiple pressures combined with exposure to bad code can allow bad programming to be installed. 

In some instances, a very difficult situation occurs, and in the mind, I've told myself negative, cursing things about someone or some thing. This is where my own mind, in an effort to cope and release energy, programs in bad code. This bad code then adversely affects how I function in later dealings with that person, place or thing. 

In other cases, you could be dealing with someone else's contagious toxic words, that do have an effect. For example, if you are in a job that demands use of most of your mental resources, and if, at the same time, a coworker is being a pill, it could be a lot harder for you to filter their stuff. It doesn't matter whether you believe the coworker is full of bull. Your mind could generate hostility toward the individual--and you could develop code that reflects your anger toward that person. And this doesn't readily go away. 

People who are incarcerated in California are in a very demanding, very pressured situation. At the same time, the prevalent content is the message that human beings, especially prisoners, are worthless. This can ruin an inmate's chances of success in life upon being released. And this includes those who've been wrongfully convicted. 

The mental health treatment system is not nearly as bad as incarceration. Yet, its environment still affects us. In the mental health treatment system, by means of "milieu therapy," patients are exposed to the belief that we can't work, that we can't think as well as counselors, and that our perceptions aren't valid. 

Mental health counselors use invalidation as one of their methods of managing people. Counselors want well-behaved patients who do not do anything that poses an inconvenience. When we are rendered impotent, it is easier to supervise us without as many difficulties. The code that reflects this is the product of repeatedly being told that what we think, believe, and perceive, are inaccurate and a product of us being mentally ill. False compliments are used to gain our trust. Additionally, the beliefs of helplessness and of being a victim are fostered. 

Medication makes consumers more suggestible and less mentally agile. When we make a dissatisfied assertion or a complaint, counselors invariably ask for supporting examples, and/or they will turn it around into an analysis of the things in the person's past that made them feel that way. It circumvents accountability of the counselors. In reference to 'specific examples' these may be hard for some consumers to furnish, because medication interferes with being able to vocalize this. In the case of delving into past experiences, the consumer fails to see that they are being manipulated by this process. 

Environment affects code. Code determines what we say, how we behave, and many other things about us. We don't have to take this passively. With enough insight into our own thought processes, we can decide to have better code than that which the environment or other people would like to put into our heads. This requires some amount of alone time, so that we can look at and edit our own thoughts. 

However, we should not become totally isolated. Doing that could expose us to our own creation of bad code, which could lead to getting acutely psychotic. 

I need to add an extra bit to this: The experience of getting very stressed out and then recovering from it, if you handle it well, can, in the long term, cause greater tolerance of stress, and can make you a more able person. The saying "What does not kill us makes us stronger" is only true some of the time. Too much stress can either be bad or good for us in the long term, and we won't know until it happens. 

Jack Bragen's most recent book is titled: "An Offering of Power: Valuable, Unusual Meditation Methods." The author would appreciate you buying a copy and posting an opinion, favorable or not.

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday November 16, 2019 - 10:16:00 AM

Can Smogburgers Save the Planet?

Sometimes (especially in wildfire season) the air pollution is so bad you can almost choke on it. But science is about to make this a good thing.

A new generation of food physicists has unveiled a novel process—call it a seeming near-miracle—that literally pulls food out of thin air.

Well, perhaps it's more correct to say "thick air" because we're talking about air that's stuffed with an excess of CO2.

The breakthrough relies on hydrogenotrophs that can be coaxed (or withdrawn) from smog banks and transformed into a protean powder that be used to create a smorgasbord of protein-based foods.

Plant-based burgers already have led the way in the transition to eco-friendly meat-free foods but turning our smoky air into a food source seems almost too good to be true. Perhaps we can start cooling the planet by scarfing coal-plant-based burgers and munching cow-burp enchiladas. 

Biden His Time

On November 12, I got an email from Joe Biden that began with the announcement: "I'm running for president." 

Thanks, Joe. Good to hear from you. Guess I missed the news. I'll pass the word. 

Best Movie Ad Ever! 

The November 14 Chronicle took the idea of "fake news" to a delicious, new plateau with a deceptive, four-page wrap-around that made it appear as if the Chron had been redacted by an over-active Sharpie-wielding mad-man. 

It all turned out to be an ingenious scam-of-a-scheme to promote a new film, a highly anticipated film about government crimes called The Report and starring Annette Bening as Senator Dianne Feinstein. 

The faux front-page contains seven breaking-news stories about whistleblowers and the Trump impeachment process—all heavily redacted with words or entire lines blacked out. Whoever got the assignment of redacting the text had a field day. A close look reveals how the swipe of a pen can completely change the original message. 

The headline, for instance, originally read "White House refusing to cooperate." But the redactor has altered it to read: "White House … to cooperate." In the caption for the accompanying photo, the redactor has changed the line stating that the White House was "calling the investigation 'invalid' and illegitimate'" to proclaim that the White House had called the investigation "valid" and "legitimate." 

These redactions demonstrate how some "cover-ups" can be revealing. Meanwhile, this film (about the CIA's secret torture/waterboarding operations) deserves our fullest attention. 

The GOPNRA Claims More Young Lives 

Another school shooting has cut short the lives of several students at Sagus High School in Santa Clarita. The soaring body count is, in part, a legacy of Sen. Mitch McConnell's refusal to confront the NRA and his refusal to support basic gun-control legislation. McConnell has earned the nickname, "Moscow Mitch" for his denial of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. Now CREDOAction has bestowed another moniker on McConnell by addressing a new gun-safety petition to "Massacre Mitch." Their message: "Your loyalty to the NRA is costing American lives. Act now on gun control." 


And here's a modest suggestion for the media: whenever a weapon is used in a deadly act of violence, please include the name of the manufacturer. Prominently! 

(And let's pause for a shout-out to the Supreme Court for ruling that the parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre have the legal right to sue Remington, the company that manufactured the Bushmaster assault rifle used in the mass-killing.) 



The thought just struck me: if Mayor Pete Buttigieg were to become the next President of the United States (POTUS), how would we address his partner? FLOTUS would need to be jettisoned in favor of a new term. Instead of First Lady, what? "First Gentleman"? "First Husband"? "Second Man"? Come to think of it, shouldn't "First Lady" Melania Trump be referred to as "Third Wife"? 

Our National Parks under Trump: Falling Down and Up for Grabs 

America's treasured national parks are suffering from $11.9 billion in deferred maintenance. Access roads are crumbling, bridges are compromised, trails are overgrown and buildings are in disrepair. Enter the Pew Charitable Trust, whose minions have put on their thinking caps and come up with a "Protecting Our Parks" plan to "save" our national parks by commercializing them. "What if," the Pewsters posit, the nation's 318 million park-goers "had the opportunity to pay for cutting-edge, technology-enhanced experiences that made their trips more memorable?" 

Pew claims its "innovative ideas" could trim maintenance costs by $3.7 billion over the next decade. For instance: allow untended roads and trails to "return to nature"; shift responsibility for maintaining park roads to nearby city governments "connected by park roads"; reduce building upkeep expenses by reducing existing buildings to rubble—a sure way to "eliminate future maintenance costs." 

Smart Park technology like remote sensors could detect roof leaks and restroom sensors that could tell workers when to empty the waste baskets. Ultimately, "offering visitors customized virtual reality experiences—3-D or 360-degree headsets—that capture the sights and sounds of . . . historic tours from virtual park rangers" would be sure to "boost NPS coffers." A certainty since virtual employees wouldn't require salaries or costly benefits. 

Heck, the NPS could save more money and rake in added profits by turning the whole park experience into a 3-D VR experience that could be enjoyed in the privacy of one's kitchen, living room, or sleeping quarters. And, for the kids, there could be videogames with titles like: "The Avengers Storm Yosemite" and "Guardians of the Galaxy: Groot, and the Petrified Forest," and "Star Wars: Death Valley." 


Grand Coca-Cola Canyon? Trump's Plan to Privatize National Parks 

CREDOAction is circulating a new petition in hopes of preventing the corporate take-over of America's most cherished national parks. Their alert reads: 

"Reporters recently uncovered shady plans between the Interior Department and national park profiteers, the RV and hospitality industries, and enemies of public lands to privatize national park campgrounds, allow commercialized food trucks and other services at parks, limit benefits for seniors and increase prices." 

According to critics, the plot (quietly drawn up by Trump's ex-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke) would constitute "a massive giveaway to corporate interests and Trump donors." 

To Trump, it seems, everything's a commodity—just a means to some profit-making end. Now Trump wants to grab public lands with the same shameless gall he's employed to grab private parts. Impeachment is not sufficient punishment for such a public scofflaw. I propose a nationally televised public spanking—to be administered by Smokey the Bear. 


"Trickle-up Politics"

Forget the false promise of "trickle-down economics": the results of the November 6 elections suggest we appear to be entering an age of "trickle-up Politics." 


According to the Indianapolis Star: "For the first time in nearly 40 years, voters in Columbus, Indiana, elected more Democrats than Republicans to the city council." Not good news for Columbus-reared Mike Pence and his brother, US Rep. Greg Pence, an Indiana Republican. Neither of the Pences accepted the IndyStar's request for comment. "Big wins in suburbs across the state are setting the table for 2020," the Indiana Democratic Party said in a news release

Weatherisms: How to Avoid Boring, Repetitive Forecasts 

The Saturday Chronicle arrived with a seven-day weathercast that proffered no hint of rain in our future. What the forecast lacked in precipitation it made up for in redundancy. While nearly every day began and ended as every other—overcast in the morning; sunny in the afternoon—the Chron apparently has a rule against boring the public with same ol'-same-ol' predicitions. 

So, instead of just repeating "partially cloudy" seven times, the Chroncast promised readers a week of "low clouds, then sun," "mostly sunny," "periods of sun," and finally, "times of clouds and sun." 

The latest flurry of the Chron's "partly sunny" weatherisms included the phrases "sunny through high clouds," "clouds breaking, followed by sunny," and finally a welcome report of something different: "plenty of sunshine." 

TP-ing the Planet to the Tipping Point 

Canada's boreal forest is the world's largest surviving intact forest. Stretching over half of Canada, these pristine woodlands provide habitat to billions of animals and a home to hundreds of indigenous communities. These vast woodlands also help remove massive amounts of globe-heating carbon from the atmosphere. 

So why are legions of loggers clear-cutting these precious trees and unleashing gigantic plumes of CO2 in the process? Answer: So CostCo can turn old-growth trees into rolls of luxury toilet paper. But using virgin wood to make TP (CostCo's "number one biggest seller") has a worse eco-impact than driving gas-hungry SUVs in freeway traffic. 

The 400,000-members of SumOfUs previously brought CostCo to the negotiating table over the TP issue but, in recent weeks, negotiations reportedly "have gone cold." SumOfUs responded by surrounding CostCo's HQ with vehicles serving as "mobile billboards" and predicted: "When Costco bosses see giant billboards slamming them for destroying pristine forest surrounding their HQ, it’ll rattle staff. They’ll know their reputation—and profits—are under threat." 

SumOfUs previously convinced Starbucks to switch to 100% recycled paper cups and compelled McDonald's to abandon forest-killing palm-oil products. For more information, check out these two teasingly titled items: 

The Issue with Tissue: How Americans Are Flushing Forests Down the Toilet, Natural Resources Defense Council, February 20, 2019. 

Wiped out: America's love of luxury toilet paper is destroying Canadian forests, The Guardian, March 1, 2019. 

¡Cuba Sí! ¡Bloqueó No!
On Nov 7, 2019, the UN General Assembly voted—again—to express its opposition to the US blockade of Cuba. Arn Kawano, from the National Lawyers Guild International Committee, reported that "other than Brazil under Bolsonaro, the US was defeated in its efforts under Trump/Pence/Pompeo to strong-arm Latin American countries to oppose the UN resolution to end the illegal and inhumane blockade of Cuba." 

While 179 members of the UN voted to end Trump's Cuba blockage, the only other country to join Brazil in backing Washington was Israel. There were two abstentions: Colombia and Ukraine (which suggests there are still some abiding quid pro quos at work.) 

Evo-lution: Reflecting on the Tumult in Bolivia 

When we visited La Paz last year, one of the first things we saw on approaching the capital was a large billboard on the outskirts that showed president Evo Morales in a hard-hat superimposed over a photo of the new freeways that were being built. 

During our stay, we heard from locals who were tiring of Evo's administration after so many years. When we asked about the freeway, one resident indicated why it was unpopular—in addition to the expense, part of the new concrete superhighway was set to cut through lands that previously belonged to cocoa farmers who had been displaced to "make way for progress." 

So the feeling was: Evo had evolved (in not the best way) and was no longer true to his own cocoa-growing roots. 

In recent months, we've seen far too many of these messy political implosions—followed by the arrival of self-nominated replacement leaders. These days, the ballot box is apparently no match for the megaphone. Democracy requires free and fair elections but, around the world, honest and uncorrupted votes now seem little more than a dim fantasy. Even in the US. 

Evo's claim to legitimacy as four-term leader was part of the problem. As NPR pointed out: 

Morales tried to amend Bolivia's constitution so he could run for a fourth term but voters narrowly rejected the proposal in a referendum. Rather than accept the result, Morales appealed to the nation's highest court, which, according to analysts, is packed with the president's allies. The judges ruled that Morales' reelection bid could proceed on the grounds that the president's human rights would have been violated were he not allowed on the ballot. 

Be that as it may, I still admire Evo Morales for his steadfast resistance to US imperialism. Earlier this year, Morales sat ten feet from Donald Trump at a UN meeting and unleashed a damning, history-rooted complaint directly in Trump's face. Here's an excerpt: 


Tell Trump: "Don't Pass Gas" 

This November, 11,000 scientists from around the world published an urgent declaration: “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity."1 

Their message could not be clearer—we simply can’t allow more greenhouse gas emissions. Despite decades of warnings, Trump’s EPA (aka Environmental Pollution Agency) continues to promote doom over decarbonization. Trump recently proposed rolling back regulations to reduce methane emissions—favoring the short-term profits of the fossil fuel industry over the long-term survival of human society. 

The Climate Reality Project wants to send a message to Andrew Wheeler, head of Trump's EPA: Don't Give Methane Gas a Pass. Now is the time to tighten regulations on methane leaks—not relax them. 

The public comment period ends soon, so add your name to the CRP's letter to EPA Administrator Wheeler today. "It’s our planet. Our future. And we won’t be silent." 

24 Hours of Global Concern on Climate 

Concerned about the climate crisis? Wondering what can be done? The Climate Reality Project is preparing to offer some ideas with an event called 24 Hours of Reality: Truth in Action, "a global conversation on the climate crisis and how we solve it." This peoples' planetary plenary will take place on November 20–21 when Climate Reality volunteers—trained by former US Vice President Al Gore, no less—will host public conversations "on our changing climate across continents and time zones." Presentations are set for all 50 US states. To find an event near you, just click on this link to locate the closest Truth in Action presentation. (Two events are currently listed to take place in Berkeley at 1543 Addison and 2015 Center Street.) 

And Keep Your Oil Platforms Out of Our Seabeds 

On November 8, the group, When Democrats Turn Out, released an email warning that read: 

"While Democrats are focused on impeachment and voting Trump out in 2020, he’s using every possible moment to cause as much damage as possible -- especially with his environmental policies. Trump has gutted emissions standards, expanded logging and mining, and now, he wants to expand offshore drilling into the Atlantic. Expanding offshore drilling would be devastating to our environment and coastal economies, and the GOP knows it, but all they care about are corporate donations." 

Unfortunately, in a breach of logical (and geological) consistency, the alert was titled: "Offshore drilling has no place on our shores." And that's the littoral truth. 

The One Phone Company That's Not a Phony 

CREDO Mobile, a division of Working Assets, is proudly showcasing a new video celebrating the company's mission of "powering progressive change." Every month, CREDO Mobile donates $150,000 to activist causes. So far, that adds up to $88 million in gifts to support voting rights, racial justice, and other progressive campaigns. 

Arts & Events

Around & About--Music: 17 Piece Electric Squeezebox Orchestra with Special Guest Vocalist Kalil Wilson, 5:30 this Sunday (11/24) at the California Jazz Academy in Downtown Berkeley

Wednesday November 20, 2019 - 10:38:00 PM

Led by trumpeter/arranger Erik Jekabson, the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra plays music written by its members.  

They've been in residence at the Jazz Conservatory since March, and this Sunday at 5:30 will feature North Oakland native Kalil Wilson, an exceptional talent, on vocals. 

(Wilson has performed at the Berkeley Hillside Club with another fine group led by Jekabson, the String-tet, and this Fall with Electric Squeezebox Orchestra at the Monterey Jazz Festival.) 

The concert's at the Conservatory's Rendon Hall/Fiddlers Annex, 2040 Addison (between Shattuck & Milvia, a half block from Downtown Berkeley BART, a few doors east of Freight & Salvage). Tickets are $10-$15, https://cjc.edu/concerts for tickets and further information, including some samples of the Orchestra's music.

FREE Screening of Frontline/Pro Publica Documentary 'Documenting Hate: New American Nazis,' 7:30 This Friday, 11/22, at the East Bay Media Center in Observance of Bay

Ken Bullock
Wednesday November 20, 2019 - 10:02:00 PM

FREE Screening of Frontline/Pro Publica Documentary 'Documenting Hate: New American Nazis,' 7:30 this Friday (11/22) at the East Bay Media Center, 1939 Addison (between Milvia & MLK) in Downtown Berkeley in Observance of Bay Area-Wide United Against Hate Week. Limited Seating. Info: eastbaymediacenter.com or (510) 843-3699

Danish String Quartet’s Stylish Program at Hertz Hall

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Wednesday November 20, 2019 - 09:50:00 PM

On Sunday afternoon, November 10, the Danish String Quartet presented a well-planned concert at Hertz Hall under the auspices of Cal Performances. The program consisted of works chosen for their interrelatedness. First heard was Johann Sebastian Bach’s Fugue No. 24 in B minor from The Well-Tempered Clavier. This was followed by Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Op. 130, with the Grosse Fugue finale, which borrows music from Bach’s B minor fugue. After intermission, the Danish String Quartet performed Alfred Schnittke’s String Quartet No. 3, which offers reminiscences of Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue.  

The Grammy nominated Danish String Quartet was recently proclaimed by Musical America as 2020 Ensemble of the Year. Comprised of violinists Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, violist Asbjørn Nørgaard, and cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin, the Danish String Quartet is noted for its breathtaking precision combined with joyful spontaneity. These characteristics were very much in evidence in their Hertz Hall concert, perhaps especially in their interpretation of Schnittke’s Quartet No. 3, which in addition to its roots in Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue also quotes Orlando di Lasso’s 16th century Stabat Mater and Dmitri Schostakovich’s signature DSCH motif.  

Of course, in such a program the Beethoven Op. 130 Quartet occupies the center of attention; and in the Danish String Quartet’s interpretation of this monumental work the fifth movement, the Cavatina, was the center of gravity. Rarely, if ever, in classical music has there been a more solemn expression of grief than this Cavatina. Beethoven told a friend he was in tears as he wrote every bar of this music; and he burst into tears even talking about it.  

If we look for the source of this grief, I suggest there is a clue in the music that precedes the Cavatina, the movement called Alla danza tedesca/In the style of a German dance. This music starts out as a joyful rustic dance tune, and we can almost picture a group of villagers dancing in a circle to this tuneful music. Yet, at a certain point, this lighthearted tune suddenly slows down and comes apart. It is almost as if Beethoven, standing apart and witnessing this dance, could appreciate the music and the village sense of community that animates such a dance. But Beethoven must also have been well aware that in his own life, there was, alas, no such sense of community. His hopes of love and marriage had been repeatedly quashed, he was now deaf, and he felt increasingly alone in his quest for the highest musical expression. Thus, as I see it, the transition from the joy and spontaneity of the beginning of the Alla danza tedesca movement, then to its sudden breakdown, ushers in the deeply felt grief of Beethoven’s Cavatina.  

After the pain and despair of the Cavatina, Beethoven sought music that might offer him, and perhaps him alone, a sense of reaffirmation. So he wrote as a Finale the immortal Grosse Fugue, going back, as it were, to Bach, as the ultimate source of classical music. The fugue itself is full of Sturm und Drang, a constantly rising and falling complexity bordering on chaos, until it eventually bursts forth in a triumphant affirmation of the worthiness of struggle in life. To me, this is Beethoven at his very best. And in this performance the Danish String Quartet effectively brought to the fore all the anguish that went into Beethoven’s masterful composition.  

As an encore the Danish String Quartet performed a short piece by Carl Neilson. 




Jeannette Sorrell Leads Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in Mozart

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Wednesday November 20, 2019 - 09:48:00 PM

Over the weekend of November 13-17, early music conductor Jeannette Sorrell led Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in a series of Bay Area concerts featuring Mozart’s music. I attended the Saturday, November 16, concert at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church. San Francisco native Jeannette Sorrell studied harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam and studied conducting under Roger Norrington and Leonard Bernstein at the Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals. Sorrell first achieved international recognition in 1991 when she won both First Prize and Audience Choice Award in the Spivey International Harpsichord Competition, competing against over 70 harpsichordists from all over the world. Then, in 1992, at age 26, Jeannette Sorrell founded in Cleveland the early music ensemble Apollo’s Fire, which over the years has built one of the largest audiences of any baroque orchestra in North America.  

Sorrell has indicated that her love of Mozart’s music goes back to her childhood, when she became entranced by the colour of Mozart’s writing for the orchestra. This awareness of orchestral colour later led Jeannette Sorrell to champion period instruments, which are used in her ensemble Apollo’s Fire. So, returning now to the Bay Area to conduct Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, a period instrument ensemble, in concerts of Mozart’s music, brings Jeannette Sorrell full circle, as it were. On the program for these concerts were Mozart’s Overture to the opera La finta Semplice, his Concerto for Oboe in C Major, and his Symphony No. 40 in G minor. In addition, composer André Grétry (1741-1813), for whom the 12-year old Mozart played in Geneva, was represented by the Orchestral Suite from Grétry’s opera Zémir et Amor as well as La caravane du Caire, an opera-ballet. 

The program opened with Mozart’s Overture to La finta Semplice/The Pretend Simpleton. This opera was composed by the 12 year-old Mozart for the Imperial Court in Vienna at the request of Emperor Joseph II. However, court intrigue prevented the opera from being performed. Although young Mozart had not yet been to Italy, La finta Semplice’s Overture follows the fast-slow-fast structure of the Italian three movement sinfonia. As performed here in Berkeley under Jeannette Sorrell, a violin melody is supported by repeated bass notes, and scaled passagework abounds. Mozart, who had already been to Mannheim, had picked up there the emphasis on soft/loud dynamics, which are prevalent from the opening bars of this fine Overture. 

Next on the program came the Orchestral Suite from Grétry’s Zémir et Azor followed by La caravane du Caire/The Caravan of Cairo. Grétry’s music was new to me, and it was a revelation of sorts. His opéra-comique Zémir et Azor (1771), which along with Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782), was set in exotic Turkey, features many then-fashionable musical turkismes. Further, Grétry, like Mozart, was heavily influenced by the example of the famed Mannheim Orchestra of Johann Stamitz; and one hears in the Overture to Zémir et Azor many of the “signatures’ of the Mannheim style such as a unison fanfare (premier coup d’archet), vivid dynamics, and many “Mannheim crescendos.” The pseudo-Turkish musical elements are even more prevalent in Grétry’s 1783 opera-ballet La caravane du Caire, especially in the Danse Égyptienne section, which imitates the cadence of a Turkish Janissary marching band. Here an “exotic” melody in the violins and oboes is accompanied by a shrill piccolo solo, beautifully performed here by Mindy Rosenfeld.  

Following the music by Grétry we returned to Mozart for his Oboe Concerto in C Major with noted oboist Gonzalo X. Ruiz as soloist. This work, long thought lost, turns out to have been the 1777 predecessor of Mozart’s Flute Concerto of 1778, which latter was actually a reworked version of his Oboe Concerto. In the hands of oboist Gonzalo X. Ruiz and conductor Jeannette Sorrell, this Oboe Concerto was a show-stopper! The virtuosity of Ruiz was spectacular; and Jeannette Sorrell’s conducting was both graceful and animated. Her use of the left arm and hand was particularly expressive, while her right hand beat time with the baton. At the beginning of this work’s third movement, Gonzalo X. Ruiz had a false start caused by an instrument problem. But Ruiz immediately corrected the problem and went on to complete this Mozart Oboe Concerto in superb fashion, for which he received tumultuous applause from an appreciative audience. 

After intermission, Jeannette Sorrell returned to the stage to lead Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550. This great symphony, Mozart’s next-to-last, was given a sensitive reading by Sorrell. The famed opening measure was impressive, as was the question-and-answer structure of the opening movement. The second movement, marked Adagio ma non troppo, features a melody we recognise from the Irish song “My sweet Molly Malone.” This melody undergoes multiple variations throughout the entirety of this lovely movement; and it was beautifully performed here under the leadership of Jeannette Sorrell. The third movement, marked Menuetto, utilises an “off-beat” hemiola, which displaces the accent in a two measure format. The final movement, marked Allegro assai, utilises the famed “Mannheim rocket,” a rapidly ascending arpeggiated chord, which here undergoes many variations and concludes the symphony with a flourish. For her sterling efforts, Jeannette Sorrell received enthusiastic, much-deserved applause from the Berkeley audience. 

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, November 17-24

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday November 16, 2019 - 08:44:00 AM

Worth Noting:

Thanksgiving is November 28 and everything seems to be scheduled for the week of November 17 – 24 - City Council, Boards and Commissions, protest rallies, another Presidential Debate, and Impeachment Hearings.


Sunday Nov 17 – Berkeley ½ Marathon, 5K, 10K – check street closures

Dredging the Bay for Crude Oil Tankers

Dredging the Bay information was updated after the November 13 Public Meeting. Letters are still accepted.


Petition in opposition to Dredging the Bay, Signatures still accepted



Holiday Food Drive – November 1 – 29, daily from 8:30 a – 6 p, for more information https://www.cityofberkeley.info/CalendarEventMain.aspx?calendarEventID=16299

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Berkeley Half Marathon – start 7:30 am – expected finish 12 pm, check link for street closures


Monday, November 18, 2019 

Agenda and Rules Committee, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Room, Agenda Planning for December 3 Regular Council Meeting, CONSENT: 2. $210,000 Public Art contract with Michael Arcega for San Pablo Park Measure T1, 3. $2,871,500 Formal bid solicitations and RFP, 4. $357,000 contract thru June 30,2021 with Berkeley Food & Housing Project for Berkeley Mental Health Flexible Spending Programs and Russell St Residence, 5. $68,442 thru June 30, 2020 contract with Bay Area Hearing Voices Network for Hearing Voices Support Group, 6. $100,000 contract amendment with Youth Spirit Artworks for Transition Age Youth Case Management and Linkage Services, 7. 61 yr term contract with 200 Marina Blvd LLC for Doubletree Hotel and $3 million contribution by the LLC for Marina Street improvements, 8. $288,000/yr base rent10 yr lease agreement with two 5 yr options with Landry’s RUI, LLC for 200 Seawall Drive plus 3.5% for sales >$1,500,000 and up to $100,000/yr credit for first 10 years for specified building and parking lot maintenance, 9. $450,000 contract for FY2020 with Trip Stop Sidewalk Repair, Inc for Sidewalk inspection and shaving services, 10. Add $220,000 to contract total $270,000 with David L. Silva d.b.a. Silva Business Consulting for real property management services, 11. Reimbursement Agreement with Wareham for City’s share of traffic signal at San Pablo and Dwight, 12. $10,260 tax refund to Bay Area Community Trust for renovation of 1638 Stuart and operation of property as affordable housing. 14. Reaffirm support for Artic National Wildlife Refuge and refrain from conducting business with companies that purchase, lease or develop oil fields within the Refuge, 15. Ordinance requiring Legal Rights for Legal Tender (accept cash), ACTION: 2nd reading 2019 CA Fire Code with Local Amendments, 18. 2nd reading Berkeley Building Codes, 19. Milvia Bikeway Project Conceptual Design, 20. Standby Officers, 21. Fund and Implement Safe Passages Program – parking restrictions to ensure Emergency Equipment Access to all parts of the City. 22. a.&b. Taxi Scripts to residents of Pathways/STAIR, 23. a.&b. 5-yr Paving Plan 24. Multi-year Bidding Process for Street Paving, 25. Reappoint Dr. P. Robert Beatty to Co. Mosquito Abatement, 26. Short Term Referral to City Manager on how to establish New Dept: Climate Emergency Mobilization Dept (CEMD) within 90 days with oversight authority of existing departments and boards regarding planning and coordination of City’s response to climate change including public education and outreach, develop annual climate emissions budget and identify grant funding. 27. Ordinance to terminate sale of gasoline, diesel and natural gas passenger vehicles throughout the City of Berkeley by 2025. 28. Oppose Transportation and Handling of Coal and Petcoke in our community, 29. Urge CPUC to address its failure of oversight and to transform PG&E into Mutual Benefit Corporation.  

Agenda Policy Committee Agenda item 8. Discussion Rules of Procedure and Order. 


City/UC/Student Relations Committee, 10 am - 12 pm, at 2465 Bancroft Way, Eshleman Hall, ASUC Senate Chamber, 5th Floor, Agenda: 4. Street Light Location Plan and Campus Safety, 5. Housing Update, 6. Southside Safety Plan, 7. Pedestrian Safety. 


Children, Youth and Recreation Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 2800 Park St, Frances Albrier Community Center at San Pablo Park, Agenda: 9. Echo Lake Camp, 12. BUSD Special Taxes and Infrastructure Bond Measures 


Homeless Commission Encampment Subcommittee, 5 pm at 2000 University, Au Coquelet, Agenda: 5. Encampment Matrix, 7. Outdoor Emergency Shelter Recommendations 


Measure O Bond Oversight Committee, 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor, Cypress Room, Agenda: 5. Presentation and Discussion: Land Value Recapture, Affordable Housing and the Adeline Plan 


Tax the Rich Rally, with music by Occupella, 4 - 5 pm (winter hours) at the Top of Solano in front of the Closed Oaks Theater, Rain/Extreme Heat Cancels 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 

Berkeley City Council, 1231 Addison Street, BUSD Board Room, 

Closed Session, 5 pm, Pending Litigation 1444 Fifth St LLC v. City of Berkeley Alameda Co Superior Court #19032434 

Regular Meeting, 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Agenda: CONSENT: 2. $800,000 bid solicitations – Sanitary Sewer $500,000, Electrical $300,000, 3. Grant Submission to State for $284,463 Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, 4. 2.5 hour Minimum Overtime Pay for Emergency Call Back in IT Dept., 6. Nominate North Berkeley BART Priority Development Area, 7. Contract $1,481,417 with Redgwick Construction Co. for Ninth Street Bicycle Pathway Extension Phase II, 7. Contract add $50,000 total $200,000 with HF&H Consultants LLC for Development In-house Commercial Hauling System, 8. Add $50,000 total $200,000 for study of City Providing Commercial Collection Services, 9. $2,348,732.70 purchase seven 25-yard Heavy Duty Rear Loading Collection Trucks, 10. $1,110,000 to purchase five 2020 North Star 155-1 Ambulances and dispose 3 Freightliner and 2 International ambulances by public auction. 11. Declaration Homeless Shelter Crisis, 12. Letter to Richmond City Council, CA EPA and CA Department of Toxics (DTSC) concerning recent action of cleaning up AstraZeneca Site Near Berkeley, 13. Budget Referral $15,000 BigBelly Trash Receptacles in Ohlone Park, 14. Referral to City Manager Amnesty Program for Undocumented Secondary Units, ACTION: A. Council Rules of Procedure and Order Revisions, 15. Budget Update, 16. FY 2020 Annual Appropriations Ordinance, 18. a.&b. Recommendations Allocations Measure P Funds, 19. Short term Referral Process, 20. goBerkeley Residential Shared Parking Pilot Project Update, 21. Short term Revenue Allocations for Civic Arts and Affordable Housing Trust Fund, 22. Modernized Contract Registration Workflow. 


Planning Commission Zoning Ordinance Revision Project Subcommittee, 7 – 9 pm at 1947 Center, Agenda: 5. Commercial and Manufacturing Chapters 


Solano Avenue Business Improvement District Advisory Board, 11 am, 1821 Catalina Ave, Thousand Oaks Baptist Church, Agenda: 4. A. Downtown Streets Team Contract Task review, b. Event Funding, 6. Solano Study, 7. Security camera research report. 


Wednesday, November 20, 2019 

Islamophobia Awareness Workshop, 1 - 3 pm, 1947 Center, Basement 


Animal Care Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 1 Bolivar Drive, Berkeley Animal Shelter, Agenda: V.a. Increase of number of dogs per commercial dog walker from 4 to 6, b. Enforcement Off Leash Boundary Areas at Cesar Chavez Park, c. Large Dog Exercise Area in Aquatic Park, VI. a Spring Loaded Traps (snap traps) for rodent control and associated risks for pets and children 


Civic Arts Commission, 6 – 8 pm at 1901 Russell St, Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch Library, Agenda: 8. Presentation: Update T1 Bond Program 


Commission on Aging, 1 – 3 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 7. PG&E shutoff 


Commission on Labor, 7 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 4.1. Local Construction Workforce Development, 2. Fair Workweek Requirements, 3. Paid Family Leave, 4. Equal Pay Independent audit, 5. Race Wage Gap report, 6. BTF (teachers) and BUSD contract negotiations update, 7. Homeless Youth Policy 


Human Welfare & Community Action Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 2. 2020 Block Grant Funding, 4. McGee Ave. Baptist Church Food Program, 7. Gentrification Presentation, 11. Disabled Accessibility in High-density corridors, 13. Charging stations, 14. Encampments proposal 


Presidential Debate, 6 pm on MSNBC.com, washingtonpost.com, SiriusXM 118 and TuneIn 

Thursday, November 21, 2019 

City Council Land Use, Housing & Economic Development Committee, 10:30 am, at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor, Cypress Room, 2. Bi-Annual Report on Housing Program Funding, 3. Disposition 1631 and 1654 Fifth St, 4. Require 20% Inclusionary Affordable Units in Housing Projects in Opportunity Zones, 5. Proposed Formula Retail Chain Store Regulations. 


City Council Facilities, Infrastructure, Transportation, Environment & Sustainability Committee, 2 pm, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor, Redwood Room, Agenda: 3. Traffic Circle Policy (new trees) and Stewardship Program, 3. Kitchen Exhaust Ventilation, 5. Electric Moped Franchise Agreement 


Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, 7 – 11 pm, 1231 Addison St, BUSD, Agenda: 7. Appeal 8 pm, 1659 Arch, 8. Appeal 8:30 pm 2019 Delaware. 


Community Health Commission, 6:30 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis St. South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda not posted, check before going 


Design Review Committee, 7 – 10 pm at 1947 Center St, Basement Multi-purpose Room, 

2099 MLK Jr Way – demolish 1-story auto service building and construct 7-story, 69 ft, 62,419 sq ft mixed-use building with 72 units (including 5 very low income) 12 parking spaces, 2448 q ft retail, Advisory Comments 

2542 Durant – demolish parking lot at 25 42 & 2538 Durant and construct 5-story mixed use building with 32 units and ground level commercial space, Committee Decision 

1835 San Pablo – demolish existing 1-story commercial building and construct 6-story mixed use building with 99 units (including 7 very low income) and 2 live/work, stacked parking for 49 autos, secure storage 92 bicycles, Majority Recommendations 


Fair Campaign Practices Commission, 7 pm at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor, Cypress Room, Agenda: 6. Codifying Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to contribution limits. 


Open Government Commission, 7:30 at 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, Agenda: 6. Council Rules and Procedure related to public comment recommend min 2 minutes max 4 minutes – if number of speakers so large as to prevent essential city business then the item can be moved to a special meeting, 7. Rules and Procedure related to public procedure to remove item from consent if 5 or more members of the public request a move to action, 8. Lobbyist Registration Act,  


Parks and Waterfront Commission Subcommittee on Capital Projects, 10 – 11 am, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor, Redwood Room, Agenda: T1 


Planning Commission Adeline Corridor Specific Plan Subcommittee, 7 – 10 pm at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Feedback proposed plan 


Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts, 6:30 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 3. Healthy Checkout Policy 


Transportation Commission, 7 – 10 pm at 1326 Allston Way, Corp Yard, Building A Willow Room, Agenda: 1. T1, 2. Vision Zero Action Plan, 3. Railroad Quiet Zone Project 


Community Meeting: King School Park Tot Lot Reconstruction Project, 6 – 7:30 pm at 1710 The Alameda, North Branch Library 


Friday, November 22, 2019 

City Council Budget & Finance Committee, 2 – 4 pm, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Room, meeting listed on community calendar, but not on Policy Committee website, check before going 510.981.6608 


Cheryl Davila Open Office Hours, 3 - 5 pm, at 2501 San Pablo, Le Pho Vietnamese Restaurant 

Protest Rally Toyota’s Decision to team up with Trump to weaken California’s car emissions standards, 3 – 5 pm, at 2400 Shattuck, can’t come call Toyota USA CEO Jim Lentz @ 800-331-4331 

Rally for Housing Justice, 5 - 7 pm, at 1685 Solano, Tenants in 13-unit building fighting Ellis Act eviction 


Saturday, November 23, 2019 

350 Bay Area Hub meeting, 8:45 am – 11 am, at 971 Tulare 

Sunday, November 24, 2019 

No City meetings or events found 



Public Hearings Scheduled – Land Use Appeals 

0 Euclid – Berryman Reservoir TBD 

Remanded to ZAB or LPC With 90-Day Deadline 

1155-73 Hearst (develop 2 parcels) – referred back to City Council – to be scheduled 

Notice of Decision (NOD) With End of Appeal Period 

3020 Acton 11-18-2019 

1119 Arch 12-02-2019 

1634 California 12-9-2019 

2801 Claremont 11-18-2019 

3015 Dohr 12-5-2019 

1225 Eighth 11-20-2019 

2422 Fifth 11-19-2019 

888 Indian Rock 11-18-2019 

2026 Los Angeles 12-02-2019 

1858 San Lorenzo 11-19-2019 

2352 Shattuck 11-19-2019 

1036 Sierra 11-25-2019 

687 Spruce 11-20-2019 

429 Vassar 11-26-19 


LPO NOD 1581 Le Roy #LMSAP2019-0004 

LPO NOD 2234 Haste #LMSAP@)!^-0002 




Jan 14 – Civic Center Visioning, Systems Realignment 

Feb 4 – Discussion of Community Poll (Ballot Measures), Adeline Corridor Plan 

March 17 –CIP Update (PRW and Public Works), Measure T1 Update 

May 5 – Budget Update, Crime Report 

June 23 – Climate Action Plan/Resiliency Update, Digital Strategic Plan FUND$/Replacement Website Update 

July 21 – no workshops scheduled “yet” 


Unscheduled Workshops/Presentations 

Cannabis Health Considerations 

Vision 2050 

Update goBerkeley (RPP) 

BMASP/Berkeley Pier-WETA Ferry (November 2020) 




To Check For Regional Meetings with Berkeley Council Appointees go to 



To check for Berkeley Unified School District Board Meetings go to 





This meeting list is also posted on the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition website. 

http://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and in the Berkeley Daily Planet under activist’s calendar http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com 


When notices of meetings are found that are posted after Friday 5:00 pm they are added to the website schedule https://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and preceded by LATE ENTRY 

Protest Against Toyota Having an Impact

Rob Wrenn
Wednesday November 20, 2019 - 10:10:00 PM

Protest against Toyota’s teaming up with Trump to oppose California’s vehicle emissions standards is having an impact. The State of California has announced that it won’t buy cars from GM or Toyota because of their alliance with Trump over the standards. It’s important to keep the heat on Toyota. Join the protest outside Toyota of Berkeley this Friday from 3 to 4 p.m. Spread the Word. Call, write or e-mail Toyota. If you own a Toyota vehicle, make sure you mention that fact.