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UC Berkeley Outlines Fall Semester Plans for Students Amid Pandemic

Eli Walsh (BCN)
Thursday June 18, 2020 - 01:37:00 PM

University of California at Berkeley officials on Wednesday outlined the school's plans for re-opening for the fall semester, including small in-person class sizes and an intent to house up to 6,500 students on campus. 

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Catherine Koshland and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton sent a message to the school's undergraduate students explaining several options during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

While in-person classes will be limited to small numbers, students will be allowed to take nearly every class remotely during the semester if they choose. All large lecture classes will only be offered remotely, according to the university. 

The school will also transition to full remote instruction after the Thanksgiving holiday due to concerns about students traveling and visiting family. As a result, the semester's final exams will be given remotely. 

"All of the unknowns make for a very challenging planning environment, and ultimately we must be prepared at very short notice to reduce or limit on-campus activities and move to fully remote teaching should pandemic conditions worsen at any point before the end of fall semester," the university officials said in their message to students. 

On-campus student housing will be prioritized for several categories of students such as those who have already signed housing contracts, students who have no estimated financial contribution for the fall semester, students with documented disabilities necessitating an on-campus residence, and student athletes. 

Christ, Alivisatos, Sutton and Vice Provost for Graduate Studies Lisa Garcia Bedolla also outlined plans for graduate students during the fall semester, many of them similar to those for undergraduate students. 

Graduate students, like undergraduates, will not be required to take in-person classes and many classes will be offered remotely in some form. Instruction will also be fully remote after Thanksgiving for graduate students. 

Graduate student instructors who planned to teach classes during the semester are advised to contact the class' faculty member while students in master's and professional degree programs are advised to consult their individual programs about fall semester plans. 

University officials plan to hold a discussion for students and their families on June 25 from 5-6 p.m. about the school's reopening plans. Details on the virtual discussion can be found at campusconversations.berkeley.edu. 

"(W)e are looking forward to welcoming you to our UC Berkeley community in whatever way that makes sense for you," university officials said. "Our typical back-to-school mode will be altered, to be sure, but our commitment to your academic success and your personal growth is unwavering."


Public Comment

It's Time to End America's Longest War—In Korea

Gar Smith
Friday June 19, 2020 - 02:23:00 PM

It's Korea, not Afghanistan, that lays claim to the forlorn title: "America's longest war." This is because the Korean conflict never officially ended. Instead, it was suspended following a military stalemate, with all sides agreeing to sign an Amnesty Agreement that called for a ceasefire that merely put the conflict on hold.

The 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War will arrive on June 25. While Washington's war in Afghanistan has raged for 18 years, the unresolved Korean War has simmered more than four times longer. While Washington's debacle in Afghanistan has cost the American treasury more than $2 trillion, the ongoing costs of "securing" the Korean Peninsula—by weaponizing the region and building scores of US military bases inside South Korea—has been even greater.

In addition to hosting vigils and commemorations to mark the day, there will be a call for members of Congress to sign on to Rep. Ro Khanna's (D-CA) House Resolution 152, calling for a formal end to the Korean War. 


Two weeks ago, I was one of 200 activists who participated in Korea Peace Advocacy Week (KPAW), a national action coordinated by the Korea Peace Network, Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network, Peace Treaty Now, and Women Cross DMZ. 

My six-person team included several charismatic Korean-American women, including Bay Area filmmaker/activist Deann Borshay Liem, director of the documentary Women Cross DMZ

Our 30-minute, live Zoomchat with Barbara Lee's (D-CA) rep in Washington went well. The face-to-face encounters offered a pleasant reprieve from the usual drudgery of "laptop-activism"—filling out a daily tide of online petitions. As my contribution, I shared some of the history gathered while preparing a North Korea Fact Sheet for World BEYOND War. It noted in part: 

For more than 1200 years, Korea existed as a unified kingdom. That ended in 1910 when Japan annexed the territory. But it was the US that created North Korea. 

• It was on August 14, 1945, following the end of WWII, when two US Army officers drew a line on a map that divided the Korean Peninsula. 

• During the UN "police action" in the 1950s, US bombers pounded the North with 635,000 tons of bombs and 32,000 tons of napalm. The bombs destroyed 78 North Korean cities, 5,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals, and more than half-a-million homes. 600,000 North Korean civilians were killed. 

So it's no wonder that North Korea fears the US. 

• Today, North Korea finds itself surrounded by US bases—more than 50 in South Korea and more than 100 in Japan — with nuclear-capable B-52 bombers parked in Guam, within striking distance of Pyongyang. 

• In 1958 — in violation of the Armistice Agreement — the US began shipping atomic weapons to the South. At one point, nearly 950 US nuclear warheads were stockpiled in South Korea.  

• The US has largely ignored the North's pleas to sign a binding "non-aggression treaty." Many in the North believe their nuclear program is the only thing protecting the country from US aggression.  

• We have seen that diplomacy works.  

In 1994, the Clinton Administration signed an "Agreed Framework" that ended Pyongyang's plutonium production in exchange for economic aid. 

• In 2001, George Bush renounced the agreement and reimposed sanctions. The North responded by reviving its nuclear weapons program. 

• The North has repeatedly offered to halt missile tests in exchange for suspension of US-South Korean military exercises targeting the North.  

• In March 2019, the US agreed to halt a joint-exercise planned for the spring. In response, Kim Jong-un halted missile tests and met with Donald Trump at the DMZ. In July, however, the US resumed the joint-exercises and the North responded by renewing test launches of tactical missiles. 

• It's time for the US to follow China's lead and sign a Peace Treaty officially ending the Korean War.  

By the end of the week, we received word that Rep. Lee had honored our request and agreed to sponsor HR 6639, which calls for an official end to the Korean War. 

Here is a wrap-up of the week's events from a member of the KPAW national planning team: 

In 2019, we had about 75 people at the annual Korea Peace Advocacy Day. 

For June 2020, we had over 200 participants and more than 50% were Korean-Americans. Volunteers from 26 states—from California to the New York island—met with 84 D.C. offices! 

And we have some early victories to report: 

  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY) and Rep Barbara Lee (CA) became the first cosponsors on HR 6639
  • Sen. Ed Markey (MA) and Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) have agreed to cosponsor S.3395 in the Senate.
  • The Enhancing North Korea Humanitarian Assistance Act (S.3908) has been formally introduced and the text will soon be available here:
The advocacy week was filled with optimism and heart-wrenching personal stories. One constituent recalled how she immigrated to the US, leaving loved-ones behind in Korea—some living in the South and some in the North: "I have a divided family, but most of them have passed away." 

In another meeting, when we told a congressional staffer, "We are doing this because this is the 70th year of the Korean War," we received the following incredulous response: "The Korean war hasn't ended?" 

As the 70th anniversary of the Korean War approaches, the KPAW national planning team and the sponsoring organizations (Korea Peace Network, Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network, Peace Treaty Now, Women Cross DMZ) are urging everyone to engage with their political representatives and encourage them to issue public calls to end the Korean War—ideally, "sometime between June 25 (the date the US officially recognizes as the start of the Korean War) and July 27 (the day the Armistice was signed)." 

Below are some "talking points" from the Korea Peace Network: 

  • 2020 marks the 70th year of the Korean War, which never formally ended. The continued state of war is the root cause of militarism and tensions on the Korean Peninsula. To get to peace and denuclearization, we must end the Korean War.
  • The US is now entering the 70th year of being locked in a state of war with North Korea. It's time to end tensions and hostilities and resolve this conflict.
  • The unresolved state of the conflict keeps thousands of families separated from each other. We must end the war, help reunite families, and begin to heal the painful divisions of this 70-year-old conflict.

Confederate Names & Statues

Jagjit Singh
Friday June 19, 2020 - 02:36:00 PM

The global outrage following the death of George Floyd has exposed systemic racism and our ugly history. Many of our military leaders have expressed profound dismay and embarrassment for allowing a number of United States military bases to be named after Confederate military officers. This occurred during our shameful acquiescence to Jim Crow oppression of black Americans in the South. 

Weeks following righteous anger have prodded lawmakers and cities across the country to take action to curb systemic racism, social inequities and police brutality. Whether this is political posturing or a harbinger of better things to follow, remains to be seen. History is replete with examples of the moral force of independent thinkers coupled with people power. Violence is a familiar American experience. We removed the yoke of oppressive British colonial rule with guns and acts of disobedience. 

The global outrage has now turned its attention on the symbolic monuments of white power. Officials supervising the removal of Jefferson Davis, a Confederate leader from Kentucky, found a newspaper dated 1936 described “African slavery, as it exists in the United States, is a moral, a social and a political blessing.” Slave owner, Robert Milligan, has even removed from outside the museum in London Docklands. Several London hospitals have removed the names of their founders who sought to expunge their dark dees with blood money. 

Symbols are important. They weave a false narrative to justify our dark history. It is shameful that the US Congress is adorned with statutes glorifying the confederates. They should be removed and tossed into the dustbin of our history. The removal of these symbols of oppression is only the beginning. The momentum is on our side. The only movement the power elite understand and fear is popular dissent and defiance. The French and Russian revolutions are examples of “people power.” Let us not squander the moment. 

“Equal justice under the law” should have real meaning. 

Labor rights were won – over the opposition of business – only because workers organized into unions and threatened to withdraw their labor. 

We live in sophisticated oligarchies, where corporations control the narratives of our lives through their control of the mass media to make us compliant and believe in fairytales. 

Britain’s black and brown communities have been oppressed for many decades. “No colored, no Pakies need apply” used to be a common advertisement in British Newsagents in the 60’s. And the ultimate insult, “respectable Indian couple considered”. 

To those who argue like President Trump, that the confederacy is part of our history. To which I say, bah humbug! How would our Jewish brothers and sisters respond if Germany would allow photographs of Adolf Hitler to be prominently displayed? 

It is past time we have a frank, inclusive conversation about what we want our societies to be. Whether we want them to be welcoming and fair or cruel places that commemorate the naked exercise of power in the past and implicitly condone its continuing use today (as was highlighted by our recent crimes in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq).How quickly we have forgotten President Bush and VP Cheney “black sites” where state sponsored torture was practiced. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his boss President Trump have even gone as far as threatening to impugn the integrity of the UN Human Rights Commission lest out war crimes be exposed. It is regrettable that President Trump supports these symbols of oppression arguing that they are important chapters in our history. I wonder if he uses the same twisted logic to support the erection of statues of Adolf Hitler in Germany.


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Tipping The Nuclear Dominos

Conn Hallinan
Friday June 19, 2020 - 01:42:00 PM

If the Trump administration follows through on its threat to re-start nuclear tests, it will complete the unraveling of more than 50 years of arms control agreements, taking the world back to the days when school children practiced “duck and cover,” and people built backyard bomb shelters.

It will certainly be the death knell for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, passed by the UN’S General Assembly in 1996. The Treaty has never gone into effect because, while 184 nations endorsed it, eight key countries have yet to sign on: the US, China, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Iran and North Korea.

Evan without ratification, the Treaty has had an effect. Many nuclear-armed countries, including the US, Britain, and Russia, stopped testing by the early 1990s. China and France stopped in 1996 and Indian and Pakistan in 1998. Only North Korea continues to test. 

Halting the tests helped slow the push to make weapons smaller, lighter and more lethal, although over the years countries have learned how to design more dangerous weapons using computers and sub-critical tests. For instance, without actually testing any weapon, the US recently created a “super fuze” that makes its warheads far more capable of knocking out an opponent’s missile silos. Washington has also just deployed a highly destabilizing low-yield warhead that has yet to be detonated. 

Nonetheless, the test ban did—and does—slow the development of nuclear weapons and retards their proliferation to other countries. Its demise will almost certainly open the gates for others—Saudi Arabia, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Turkey, and Brazil—to join the nuclear club. 

“It would blow up any chance of avoiding a dangerous new nuclear arms race,” says Beatrice Fihn of the Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and “complete the erosion of the global arms control framework.” 

While the Trump administration has accelerated withdrawal from nuclear agreements, including the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement, and START II, the erosion of treaties goes back almost 20 years. 

At stake is a tapestry of agreements dating back to the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty that ended atmospheric testing. That first agreement was an important public health victory. A generation of “down winders” in Australia, the American Southwest, the South Pacific and Siberia are still paying the price for open-air testing. 

The Partial Test Ban also broke ground for a host of other agreements. 

The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) restricted the spread of nuclear weapons and banned nuclear-armed countries from threatening non-nuclear nations with weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately, key parts of the agreement have been ignored by the major nuclear powers, especially Article VI that requires nuclear disarmament, followed by general disarmament. 

What followed the NPT were a series of treaties that slowly dismantled some of the tens of thousands of warheads with the capacity to quite literally destroy the planet. At one point, the US and Russia had more than 50,000 warheads between them. 

The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty reduced the possibility of a first-strike attack against another nuclear power. The same year, the Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement (SALT I) put a limit on the number of long-range missiles. Two years later, SALT II cut back on the number of highly destabilizing multiple warheads on missiles and put ceilings on bombers and missiles. 

The 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement banned land-based medium-range missiles in Europe that had put the continent on a hair-trigger. Four years later, START I cut the number of warheads in the Russian and American arsenals by 80 percent. That still left each side with 6,000 warheads and 1600 missiles and bombers. It would take 20 years to negotiate START II , which reduced both sides to 1550 deployed nuclear warheads and banished multiple warheads from land-based missiles. 

All of this is on the verge of collapse. While Trump has been withdrawing from treaties, it was President George W. Bush’s abandonment of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 that tipped the first domino. 

The death of the ABM agreement put the danger of a first-strike was back on the table and launched a new arms race, As the Obama administration began deploying ABMs in Europe, South Korea and Japan, the Russians began designing weapons to overcome them. 

The ABM’s demise also led to the destruction of the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement (INF) that banned medium-range, ground-based missiles from Europe. The US claimed the Russians were violating the INF by deploying a cruise missile that could be fitted with a nuclear warhead. The Russians countered that the American ABM system, the Mark 41 Ageis Ashore, could be similarly configured. Moscow offered to let its cruise be examined, but NATO wasn’t interested

The White House has made it clear that it will not renew the START II treaty unless it includes Chinese medium-range missiles, but that is a poison pill. The Chinese have about one fifth the number of warheads that Russia and the US have, and most of China’s potential opponents—India, Japan, and US bases in the region—are within medium range.  

While Chinese and Russian medium-range missiles do not threaten the American homeland, US medium-range missiles in Asia and Europe could decimate both countries. In any case, how would such an agreement be configured? Would the US and Russia reduce their warhead stockpile to China’s 300 weapons, or would China increase its weapons levels to match Moscow and Washington? Both are unlikely. 

If START II goes, so do the limits on warheads and launchers, and we are back to the height of the Cold War. 


On many levels this makes no sense. Russia and the US have more than 12,000 warheads between them, more than enough to end civilization. Recent studies of the impact of a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan found it would have worldwide repercussions by altering rain patterns and disrupting agriculture. Imagine what a nuclear war involving China, Russia, and the US and its allies would do. 

Partly this is a matter of simple greed. 

The new program will cost in the range of $1.7 trillion, with the possibility of much more. Modernizing the “triad” will require new missiles, ships, bombers and warheads, all of which will enrich virtually every segment of the US arms industry. 

But this is about more than a rich payday. There is a section of the US military and political class that would like to use nuclear weapons on a limited scale. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review explicitly reverses the Obama administration’s move away from nuclear weapons, reasserting their importance in US military doctrine. 

That is what the recently deployed low yield warhead on the US’s Trident submarine is all about. The W76-2 packs a five-kiloton punch, or about one-third the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, a far cry from the standard nuclear warheads with yields of 100 kilotons to 475 kilotons. 

The US rationale is that a small warhead will deter the Russians from using their low yield nuclear warheads against NATO, The Trump administration says the Russians have a plan to do exactly that, figuring the US would hesitate to risk an all-out nuclear exchange by replying in kind. There is, in fact, little proof such a plan exists, and Moscow denies it. 

According to the Trump administration, China and Russia are also violating the ban on nuclear test by setting off low yield, hard to detect, warheads. No evidence has been produced to show this, and no serious scientist supports the charge. Modern seismic weapons detection is so efficient it can detect warheads that fail to go critical, so-called duds. 

Bear baiting—and dragon drubbing in the case of China—is a tried and true mechanism for opening the arms spigot. 

Some of this is about making arms manufactures and generals happy, but it is also about the fact that the last war the US won was Grenada. The US military lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, made of mess of Libya, Somalia and Syria, and is trying to extract itself from a stalemate in Yemen. 

Just suppose some of those wars were fought with low-yield nukes? While it seems deranged—like using hand grenades to get rid of kitchen ants—some argue that if we don’t take the gloves off we will continue to lose wars or get bogged down in stalemates. 

The Pentagon knows the Russians are not a conventional threat because the US and NATO vastly outnumber and out spend Moscow. China is more of a conventional challenge, but any major clash could go nuclear and no one wants that. 

According to the Pentagon, the W76-2 may be used to respond “to significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” on the US or its allies’ “infrastructure,” including cyber war. That could include Iran. 

Early in his term, President Trump asked why the US can’t use its nuclear weapons. If Washington successfully torpedoes START II and re-starts testing, he may get to do exactly that. 

Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com 






THE PUBLIC EYE: California’s Economic Problems

Bob Burnett
Friday June 19, 2020 - 01:30:00 PM

On June 17th, California "celebrated" the three-month anniversary of Governor Gavin Newsom's "shelter-in-place" order. The good news is that we're serious about dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic; the bad news is that the combination of the pandemic and "shelter-in-place" order has had a devastating impact on the California economy.

So far, California has more than 167,000 COVID-19 cases and 5300 deaths. We haven't "flattened the curve" yet; we're adding more than 3000 new cases per day, mostly in Los Angeles County and the surrounding counties, such as Orange and Riverside. This means that California is gradually opening up but we have to be careful. On June 18, Governor Newsom ordered all Californians to wear masks when in public or "high-risk settings." (https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-06-18/california-mandatory-face-masks-statewide-order-coronavirus-gavin-newsom)

The pandemic-induced "shelter-in-place" order has had several noticeable economic impacts: 

Unemployment: California has 40 million residents and a labor force of approximately 18 million workers. Governor Newsom expects the state’s unemployment rate to peak around 25 percent later in the year (with the rate for 2020 expected to be 18 percent). The Public Policy Institute of California (https://www.ppic.org/wp-content/uploads/ppic-statewide-survey-californians-and-their-government-may-2020.pdf ) describes a dire situation: "More than one-third of adults (35 percent) report that they or someone in their household have been laid off or lost their job due to the coronavirus outbreak, and half (51 percent) report someone in their house having work hours reduced or pay cut." [Emphasis added] 

According to the Public Policy Institute of California (https://www.ppic.org/blog/early-insights-on-californias-economic-downturn/?), "The lion’s share of job loss (more than 80 percent) occurred in three service sectors: arts, entertainment, and recreation; accommodations and food; and 'other services' (a category that includes automotive repair, personal care, and dry cleaning)." These sectors fell significantly faster than they did during the first month of the great recession -- December 2007 through January 2008. (In contrast, during the great recession, the sector experiencing the most impact was construction.) 

As California counties learn to manage the pandemic, more businesses are permitted to open. Here in Sonoma County, we've begun to open restaurants, tasting rooms, bars, movie theaters, fitness centers, galleries and campgrounds -- we're preparing for "cautious" tourism. As this happens, more furloughed employees will return to work. Nonetheless, not everyone who had a job will return to the same job or hours. 

California outlook: Significant unemployment for the rest of the year -- more than 15 percent. 

Tourism: In 2019, California made $145 billion from tourism. This year, by mid-April, the Golden State's tourism business had stopped. This abrupt halt cost the jobs of most of the Golden State's 600,000 travel industry employees. It also had a secondary impact: reduction of state revenues -- travel taxes are a key source of revenue for California cities, amounting to $12 billion in 2019. 

As California counties begin to manage the pandemic, intra-state tourism is restarting. For example, in Sonoma County, residents of other California counties are beginning to travel here to visit our wineries and parks. Nonetheless, we're not seeing visitors from other states or countries and it's unclear when we will. 

California outlook: Out-of-state tourism is dead for the rest of 2020, resulting in a continued negative economic impact. 

Budget Deficit: On June 15th, the California legislature passed a pandemic-crisis budget (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-15/california-assembly-passes-budget-that-depends-on-federal-aid). Bloomberg News reported that California lawmakers "passed a $143 billion general-fund budget for the next fiscal year that counts on federal aid before triggering spending cuts... The bill they approved is a placeholder of sorts for the fiscal year beginning July 1 as they said they will continue to negotiate with [Governor] Newsom and can make changes later in the summer... California is grappling with a $13.4 billion budget shortfall this year and $40.9 billion in the next as pandemic-related shutdowns slam the economy of the most populous U.S. state." 

If the California budget is not bailed out by Federal aid, then California will be forced to cut funds to education and other critical services. (Most California schools have yet to reopen and many seek additional funds because of pandemic-related health-safety requirements -- such as smaller class sizes and increased cleaning procedures. 

California outlook: Later in the summer, Congress will probably pass a stimulus bill that provides funds for hard-hit states and cities. This will help alleviate California's 2020 budget pain, but the Golden State's 2021 outlook is also grim. 

Agriculture: Although accounting for only 2 percent of California's economy, agriculture produces $47.1 billion in revenue. Over a third of the United States' vegetables and two-thirds of the country's fruits and nuts are grown in California -- it's the leading US state for cash farm receipts, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation's total agricultural value. 

Since Governor Newsom's March 17th shelter-in-place order, California farmworkers have been declared "essential" workers and have remained in the fields and packing sheds. Unfortunately, they are beginning to get sick. 

Hispanics/Latinos are 57 percent of California's infected population -- 92,000 of 167,000. Most of the "essential" farmworkers are Hispanic and more than 50 percent are undocumented (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/us/coronavirus-undocumented-immigrant-farmworkers-agriculture.html). So far, the pandemic hasn't caused major disruptions in California's agricultural production, but it seems inevitable that there will be problems. 

California outlook: As the summer progresses, the pandemic is likely to disrupt aspects of California's food supply. 


Summary: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, California's economy has taken a big hit. We're working our way through the crisis but the big problems won't be solved quickly. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Reality Checking and Beyond

Jack Bragen
Friday June 19, 2020 - 02:26:00 PM

"Reality checking" is a highly effective and recommended method for delusional people to help get our minds on track. This method, however, relies on the willingness of the patient to accept a result that doesn't match what we want to believe. However, I am going to speak of a deeper type of reality finding, one in which we are confronted with non-debatable truths, that are powerful enough to completely replace specific delusions. 

It was an "aha" moment when I was at a doctor's office, and I viewed the MRI of a family member who complains of chronic pain. It was a moment of truth when I compared hypothetical causes of people's attitudes toward me. It entered the equation that my behavior was "off," and people were reacting to that. The competing belief system was very different and was bizarre. 

When a psychotic person incorporates some very basic truths into her or his thinking, it is a step forward. It is astounding that my functioning has been quite good, while at the same time, my mind has struggled under a load of psychotic beliefs. Therefore, something unknown is working in my favor. 

A person can be substantially delusional yet pass for normal. Society doesn't measure how much a person's mind is connected to reality. Instead, people look for behavior that matches what they've learned to expect. Additionally, reality is subject to debate and so is truth. There is no one on Earth against whom we can gauge our minds to be accurate. People watch television evangelists and believe everything they say. Yet, if they can still function in society, they could be considered among the functioning delusional. 

Science is considered by most informed persons to be closer to the truth. Yet, science doesn't automatically make a person in touch with reality. If an individual can sync their mind to the minds of people around them, it is probably a safe bet that they won't be considered psychotic. Isolation is one of the factors that can contribute to psychosis. A person can be psychologically isolated even while physically among people. 

I'd like to elaborate on the paragraph above. When someone lacks the ability to be social, is unable to bond or "gel" with people and perceives that they are separate from the people around them, it creates a psychological and mental disconnect. When someone lacks social skills and cannot relate to people or open up to people, it is as though on a mental level, they are surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. This situation prohibits syncing one's mind with the minds of others. 

It is through person to person connections that a person subject to psychosis has a chance to get well. This must happen in combination with being medicated. 

In a work setting, if a mental health consumer has a job, filling the mind with the details of the job can be quite grounding, and can be highly effective at crowding out the delusional content. If you are deciding on which drill bit to use on your electric drill to make a pilot hole in wood, you are not thinking about extraterrestrials speaking in your head. Although this is not absolute, it could make a substantial difference for the better. 

A person does not have to be totally without delusions. If the delusions are lower in quantity and in intensity, and if you have compensatory mechanisms, it is probably good enough. 

If delusions are minor enough, you are entering the category of normal, in which a proportion of your beliefs will be incorrect. This is a major accomplishment toward recovery. Yet it does not mean that treatment should be discontinued, because treatment probably got you to this point, and maintains you there. 


Jack Bragen is author of "Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia: A Self-Help Manual," and several other books. He lives in Martinez with his spouse.

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday June 19, 2020 - 01:35:00 PM

Rally 'Round the Plague, Boys

What's the word for all those hyper-Trump supporters who plan to risk their lives by shouldering their way into the red-hatted mosh pit Trump hopes to see waiting for him inside Tulsa's BOK Center?

Given the odds that many of them soon may be suffering prolonged and horrendous deaths from COVID-19, I'd go with: "Die-hard fans."

Will Trump's fans wear masks? Will they "social distance" inside the crowded hall? One thing is clear: while Trump expects the faithful to mass and mingle in the face of an ongoing pandemic, Trump and his lawyers are not taking any risks. The following small print appears on the official, online event registration page posted by DonaldJTrump.com:

By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury. 

At Least One Branch of the Government Is in Mint Condition 

The US Mint's business plan is unique: The Mint is a government entity whose mission is to make money by making money. The Mint offers reproductions of historic pocket change and also designs new commemorative coins to entice upscale collectors. 

Since the Mint, by law, has no competitors, it can charge whatever it wants for its golden coins and silver dollars. A one-ounce silver coin with a face value of $1 can be purchased from the Mint for $64.50, while a one-ounce gold Liberty Coin with a face value of $1 will cost you $2,270. (Of course, the price does include a fancy wooden display box and a "certificate of authenticity.") 

The Mint's 24-page catalog is filled with lots of pricy offerings. Herewith, some examples. 

For traditionalists, there are versions of the classic Buffalo Nickel with James Earle Frazer's engraved profile of a Native American on the face and a rendering of an American buffalo on the reverse. (That's one-ounce of 24-karat gold.) The current cost of this replica of a 1913 five-cent coin? $2,315. How's that for inflation? (Actually, according to the Inflation Calculator, a 1913 dollar would be worth $25.90 today—a 2489,8% devaluation. Divide that by 20 and a 1913 zinc nickel would be worth $1.30 today.) 

For nontraditionalists, there are some brand-new bits of change. One of the most striking innovations is a 2017 version of the classic $100 American Liberty coin that replaces the profile of a young Caucasian woman (wearing a crown-like headdress with her long hair blowing in the wind) with the profile of a lovely Afro-American lady (with a burst of large stars encircling her ornately woven braids). One of these 99.99-percent-pure gold coins could be in your pocket for a mere $1,990. 

But one of the oddest bits of dollar-dealing appears on page 21 of the catalogue. Thanks to the minions at the Mint, it's now possible to paper your walls with currency—in denominations from $2 to $10 to $100. The sheets consist of eight bills and measure 10.5 by 12 inches. While a square-foot of Benjamins (cut and stuffed in your wallet) would be worth $800, in the Mint's reimagined "Eight Note Sheet," each square-foot of potential wallpaper would set you back $920. (A bargain, really, considering that a Four-Note-Sheel of two-dollar bills goes for $22.50.) 

The weird thing is: if the Mint is churning out sheets of "Wall Street Wall Paper," there must be a market for it! Do you suppose Jeff Bezos has a special room completely plastered with $100 bills? Somewhere in Disney Heaven, Scrooge McDuck must be cackling with delight. 

Police Violence: It's Not Just Racism 

Across America, the outcry against the ogre of institutionalized racism continues to rise. But there's another equally institutionalized problem at work that has nothing to do with race. Police violence is not just a black-and-white issue. Remember: the Minneapolis cops whose actions (and inaction) lead to George Floyd's death were not all white. One is Asian American (Hmong) and another officer, J. Alexander Kueng, is Africa-American. 

Remember: the Atlanta cops accused of unjustly tazing and physically assaulting two African-American college students in their car on May 30. Five of the six officers sacked for the attack were black. 

In 2015, BlackAmericaWeb reports, three Atlanta police officers mistakenly entered the wrong home and opened fire when confronted by the family dog. The dog was killed, the homeowner was shot in the leg, and one of the cops was critically injured by "friendly fire." It was another racially charged case. But this time, all three police officers were African-American, the homeowner was white, and the dog was a boxer. So police violence remains an issue that transcends the problem of institutionalized racism. 

The truth is that, race aside, police officers are given the extraordinary power to confront, stalk and kill. And that kind of power corrupts—absolutely. It means: a police officer must never be questioned. It means: If you disrespect an officer, you may be assaulted. It means: If you are assaulted and try to protect yourself, that constitutes "resisting arrest" and can result in lasting injuries. It means: if you are unarmed and run from an officer, that's a show of disrespect that can get you killed. 

Perhaps there should be a word for the larger problem of crazed testosterone-fueled hyper-male authoritarian overreach. How about: "Masculinsanity"? 

Only one problem: Female cops have also killed unarmed civilians. So the problem is not just racial. And it's not just sexual. It's contextual. 

Barbara Lee Wants to Give Confederate Statues the Boot 

Our local congresswoman, Barbara Lee, has taken on another legislative challenge. 

Lee writes that, while she is inspired that "Americans in all 50 states and millions of people around the world are marching to protest racism and police violence," at the same time, she's bothered by a troubling anomaly: While people are "marching in solidarity and fighting for a better future . . . , across our country, Confederate statues and monuments still pay tribute to white supremacy and slavery in public spaces." 

And those public spaces aren't just found in the Old South. They are also to be found in Washington, DC. 

As Lee puts it: "It is time to tell the truth about what these statues are: Hateful symbols that have no place in our society and certainly should not be enshrined in the US Capitol." Yep: Right in the heart of the US Capitol, as part of the National Statuary Hall Collection. 

Rep. Lee originally introduced a similar bill in 2017, following the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Somehow, Republican legislators failed to see the urgency. But Lee is not deterred. "Now more than ever, it’s clear Congress must pass my legislation and remove these hateful symbols from our nation’s capital." 

The Confederate Monument Removal Act is cosponsored by Senators Harris (D-CA), Warren (D-MA), Schumer (D-NY), Markey (D-MA), Schatz (D-HI), Brown (D-OH), Blumenthal (D-CT), Sanders (D-NH), Bennet (D-CO), Hirono (D-HI), Duckworth (D-IL), Klobuchar (D-MN), Merkley (D-OR), Van Hollen (D-MD), Durbin (D-IL) and Coons (D-DE).  

Full text of the bill is available here

Meanwhile, a grassroots campaign that is spreading like crabgrass, is promoting a petition that calls for replacing every statue of a Confederate general with a statue of county-music star Dolly Parton. 


VoteVets's New Ad: How to Debase a Base 

There's been quite a row following the revelation that nearly a dozen US military bases have been named in honor of officers (some would call them "traitors") who served in the Confederate Army. 

As the veteran's group VoteVets observes: "We’d never name bases after America’s enemies, like Osama bin Laden. So why does Donald Trump so desperately want to keep the names of other racist enemies on our Army bases?" 

VoteVet got so steamed over this issue that they went out and created the following video: 


A CIVIL Law to Trounce Trump's Troops 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is among those alarmed by Donald Trump's recent "threats to weaponize the US military against the American people [and] depriving them of their First Amendment rights" by invoking the 1807 Insurrection Act to impose "dominance" on a civilian population that has grown increasingly resistant to Trump's lies, threats, crimes, cover-ups, and failures. 

Blumenthal has launched a petition to support his demand that Congress pass his CIVIL Act to "establish clear checks on the President's authority to deploy US troops on American soil." 

CODEPINK Wants You to Know 

"War is NOT Green," according to a recent CODEPINK meme. And here are the messages behind the meme. 

• "Did you know that the Pentagon is the world's single largest institutional consumer of fossil fuel?" 

• "Did you know that, if the Pentagon was a country, its fuel use alone would make it the 47th largest greenhouse-gas-emitter in the world?" 

So why does CODEPINK see red when it looks at Blackrock investing? Because Blackrock invests billions "in weapons manufactures like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin." COPEPINK wants Blackrock—"the world's largest investor in weapons and fossile fuels"—to mend its ways. And it wants the Chair of the Federal Reserve to "use our taxpayer money to bail out the people and not the weapon and oil companies." 


How Wars Wound the World: Take a Course to Change the Course 

World BEYOND War, a US Peace Prize-nominated anti-war organization, is about to launch the latest in a series of extensive and challenging online courses with regular off-line assignments and occasional live interactions. The latest course, "War and the Environment," is set to run from July 5 to August 16 and explore "the relationship between two existential threats: war and environmental catastrophe." The course will address: "Where wars happen and why," "What wars do to the earth," "The damage nuclear weapons have done—and could do—to people and the planet," "How the War Culture is created and sustained," and "What can be done to move the world away from war and toward peace?" 

WBW's instructors include author and Professor of Environmental Health (retired) H. Patricia Hynes, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom disarmament expert Ray Acheson, Extinction Rebellion activist Caroline Davies, National Priorities Project researcher Lindsay Koshgarian, Peace Brigades Institute activist Brent Patterson, WBW Education Director Phill Gittins, and WBW Executive Director and Nobel Peace Prize nominee David Swanson. 

People who register can expect to spend a minimum of 1-2 hours a week reviewing each session's text and videos. But WBW notes, "the real richness of the learning occurs in live, hour-long online sessions, where we have the opportunity to explore new ideas, strategies, and visions for building a more peaceful world." All participants are expected to submit original essays and are encouraged to complete optional assignments. 

WBW has a uniquely flexible approach to covering the $100 tuition: "Pay less if you have to, more if you can." 

Could Trump Flunk the Electoral College and Still Claim Victory? 

The voting rights watchdogs at Abolish the Electoral College warn that the US Supreme Court is currently hearing two cases that could "change the way our elections work forever

"Remember how Hillary Clinton won the popular ballot by 3 million votes? As our undemocratic system currently works, Joe Biden could win 5 million more votes than Donald Trump but still 'lose' in the Electoral College. 

"Now the Republicans are trying to rewrite the laws to invalidate the Electoral College vote! Both cases ask whether members of the Electoral College can be penalized or removed from office if they do not vote for the presidential candidate chosen by their state’s voters. If the court decides these “faithless electors” can’t be penalized for voting for whomever they want, they could theoretically give Trump a second term even if Biden wins the Electoral College! 

"This shows, more than ever before, just how ridiculous this system is, and why we need to abolish it.

HARD Choices 

Oakland-based Action for Animals (AforA) has long been giving voice to campaigns to end animal abuse—in all its forms. It recently celebrated the announcement that the annual May Rowell Ranch Rodeo had been canceled, "thanks to COVID-19." The rodeo, notorious for its abuse of cows, bulls, and calves, has taken place on property owned by the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD) and AforA has come up with a suggestion about how to use the land "going forward": 

"HARD should donate the property to a local nonprofit, perhaps the East Bay SPCA, and transform the rodeo grounds into a Farm Animal Sanctuary and Education Center for Bay Area school children."  

Activities could include animal care education, humane ranching skills, and an organic garden. AforA cites Section 60042 of the California Education Code, which mandates that "humane education and kindness to animals" should be taught in public schools K-12. 

ACTON: Anyone who would like to support this initiative is invited to contact HARD General Manager Paul McCreary and members of the HARD board at 1099 E Street, Hayward, CA 94541. For more information: Action for Animals, PO Box 20184, Oakland, CA 94620. https://www.actionforanimals-oakland.com 

News You Can Use: Buff the Drum Slowly 

Brother printer cartridges are designed to stop working even when they remain filled with toner. This is because of a light-sensitive mechanism that shuts off prematurely. So, when the "empty" light starts flashing, try placing a small piece of dark tape over the pea-sized window on the side of the cartridge and voila! You should be good to go. 

For how much longer? Well, I bought my last toner cartridge on October 5, 2019. It started flashing "near empty" on November 20, 2019. When I covered the light-hole, the warning light stopped blinking, and I continued using the "empty" cartridge for another five months! 

Now my printer is blinking the news that the drum needs to be replaced. There's not that much to a Brother drum. It's mostly a plastic frame with a single roller in back but buying a replacement can cost around $114. But it turns out that the drum can be put back in use with a simple cleaning that takes less than three minutes. Here's a short video that shows how you can avoid adding more plastic to the waste-stream while saving a bunch of money. 

ECLECTIC RANT:On John Bolton’s Book

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday June 20, 2020 - 01:13:00 PM

The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir by John Bolton, former National Security Advisor for the United States: As Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) aptly remarked, John Bolton “may be an author, but he’s no patriot.” 

Bolton had a chance to testify during the House of Representatives impeachment proceedings when it would have counted most but put money before country. We can add his "expose" to the stack of other exposes. I expect it will be soon on bookstores’ remainder sections.

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, June 21-28

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday June 20, 2020 - 01:11:00 PM

Worth Noting:

Seven City meetings were found.

The Police Review Commission is working on revising the Berkeley Police Use of Force Policy. The subcommittee meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the full Commission meets on Wednesday.

Berkeley City Council goes into closed session on Monday to meet with labor negotiators, Tuesday is a special meeting of the full council on the budget and Thursday the Budget Committee meets.

ZAB meets Thursday evening to review 5 projects.

Juneteenth Celebrations continue through the weekend.

Coronavirus – The daily number of new cases of Coronavirus in Texas, Florida and Arizona is in an upward spike. California continues to rise too with hospitalizations increasing slightly. Mercury News | East Bay Times have detailed key information for California in the Coronavirus Tracker https://extras.mercurynews.com/coronavirus-tracker/

The CIDRAP – Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy https://www.cidrap.umn.edu posted Chinese study: Antibodies in COVID-19 patients fade quickly. The study was of a small number of patients, but the take away is that there may not be long term immunity after recovering from COVID-19. It looks like wearing facial coverings will need to continue for a long time including for those who have had COVID-19 and recovered. There is still a lot to learn about SARS-CoV-2.

The June 30 City Council meeting agenda is available for comment and follows the daily meeting summaries.

To submit comment during meeting to be read during public comment email clerk@cityofberkeley.info and include item number

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father’s Day

Monday, June 22, 2020

Police Review Commission – Use of Force Subcommittee, 5:30 pm


Videoconference: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87489661585

Teleconference: 669.900.6833 Meeting ID: 874 8966 1585

Agenda: Continue draft of Use of Force BPD Policy 300

Berkeley City Council – Closed Session, Tuesday, 5:00 pm,


Videoconference: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82012177428

Teleconference: 669.900.9128 Meeting ID: 820 1217 7428

Agenda: Conference with Labor Negotiators, Employee Organizations, Berkeley Fire Fighters Assoc 1227, Berkeley Police Assoc, SEIU, Local 1021, Maintenance and Clerical, Chapters Berkeley Fire Fighters Assoc, Local 1227 I.A.F.F. / Berkeley Chief Fire Officiers Assoc, IBEW, Local 1245

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 

Berkeley City Council – Special Meeting, 6:00 pm  


Videoconference: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81018378132 

Teleconference: 669.900.9128 Meeting ID: 810 1837 8132 

Agenda: 1 FY 2021 Budget Update, 2. FY 2020 2nd qtr Investment Report ended 12/31/2019, 3rd qtr Investment Report ended 3/31/2020 


Wednesday, June 24, 2020 

Police Review Commission – Use of Force Subcommittee plans to meet prior to regular PRC meeting, check website for time and details after Monday, 

Police Review Commission – Regular Meeting, 7 pm 


Videoconference: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88343051512 

Teleconference: 669.900.6833 Meeting ID: 883 4305 1512 

Agenda: 8. Subcommittee Work, 9. Review of revisions to BPD Policy 300 Use of Force 


Thursday, June 25, 2020 

City Council Budget & Finance Committee, 10 am, 


Agenda, Videoconference, and Teleconference information will be posted Monday, June 22. 


Zoning Adjustment Board, 7 pm 


Videoconference: https://zoom.us/j/97644149865 

Teleconference: 669.900.6833 Meeting ID: 976 4414 9865 

2099 MLK JR Way – demolish existing 1-story auto service building, construct 62,419 sq ft 7-story, 69’ mixed use building with 72 dwellings (includes 5 very low income dwellings) 2448 sq ft retail, 12 parking spaces, 65 bicycle spaces, on consent 

2590 Bancroft Way – demolish existing 2-story commercial building, construct 8-story mixed use building with 87 dwelling units (includes 5 very low income dwellings) 4345 sq ft commercial space, 2566 sq ft usable open space, 40 bicycle spaces, no vehicle parking spaces, on consent 

1531 Summit – construct new 2393 sq ft 2-story single family dwelling average height 24’5” detached 2-car garage on vacant 7269 sq ft vacant lot, 

1328 Oxford – alter 5400 sq ft residential parcel that is over density by constructing 2nd story 234 sq ft additions, add 4 dormers to existing roof resulting in 202 sq ft of habitable space in attic to existing 1405 sq ft 2-story single family dwelling, on consent, 

2227 Carleton – alter 4500 sq ft residential parcel, construct 1435 sq ft major residential addition resulting in 3361 sq ft 2-story duplex, 25’6” average height, 28’-10” maximum height, making alterations within non-conforming east side and front yards and adding 5 bedrooms for total 8 bedrooms on parcel, on action - staff recommend approve, 


Friday, June 26, 2020 

Police Review CommissionUse of Force Subcommittee 


Check for time and logins during week, likely time 5 pm 


Saturday, June 27, 2020 

No City meetings or events found  


Sunday, June 25, 2020 

No City meetings or events found 



June 30 Regular City Council meeting agenda: email comments to council@cityofberkeley.info 


Videoconference: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87199785160 

Teleconference: 669.900.9128 Meeting ID: 871 9978 5160 

CONSENT: Items 1 – 11 Second Reading Vote, 13. Contract add $180,134 total $441,984 FY 2021-2025 for Animal Services Contract with City of Piedmont, 14. Add $30,000 and extend to June 30, 2021 total $120,000 with Townsend Public Affairs, Inc for ERMA, 15. Contract $214,848 July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021with Downtown Y for City employees, 17. Reaffirm Investment Policies, 18. FY2021 Appropriations Limit $284,280,447, 19. FY 2021 Tax Rate Fire Protection, Emergency Response and Preparedness (Measure GG), 20. Grant Agreement Amendment: Alameda County Coordinated Entry System (CES) Grant, 21. Mental Health Services Act Contract Amendment: Covenant House (YEAH), 22. Contract Amendments: Mental Health Services Act, Prevention and Early Intervention, 23. Contract Amendment with BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, 24. Reimbursement with City of San Jose and BPD for Training related to Internet Crimes Against Children, 25. Grant Applications Active Transportation Program Cycle 5, 26. Contract add $300,000 total $8,286,960 with Ghilotti Construction for Shattuck Reconfiguration and Pedestrian Safety Project, 27. FY 2021 Clean Stormwater Fee, 28. Support Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s legislation to establish a US Commission on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, 29. Resolution Urging State Legislature and Governor to explore new revenue generating options including additional tax on highest earning Californians, 30. Support AB-3256 Economic Recovery and Climate Resiliency Bond, 31. Support AB-2501 COVID-19 Homeowner, Tenant, Consumer relief, 32. Support ACA 5 to place statewide ballot to repeal Proposition 209 (1996) and allow C=State of CA to pursue minority equal opportunity and access initiatives, ACTION: 33. Amend One-Way Car Share Program: Electric Mopeds, Fees Deposits, 34. Amend Berkeley Election Reform Act (public election financing), 35. Charter Amendment to change Mayor and Councilmembers to Fulltime Status, 36. Ballot Measure to Create Climate Action Fund, 37. Amend Berkeley’s Minimum Wage Ordinance, impacting youth training programs, 38. Charter Amendment Ballot Initiative to repeal residency requirement for sworn members Berkeley Fire Dept, 39. Contract CycloMedia for GIS Infrastructure Asset Data, 40. FY 2021 Mid-Biennial Budget Update Adoption, 41. FY 2021 Annual Appropriations $521,674,251 (gross), $452,409,230 (net), 42. Borrowing of Funds and the Sale and Issuance of FY 2020-21 Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes, INFORMATION REPORTS: 43. Audit Report Wins National Recognition, 44. City Auditor FY 2021 Audit Plan 



Public Hearings Scheduled 

0 Euclid 7/7/2020 

1449 Grizzly Peak 7/7/2020 

1533 Berkeley Place 7/14/2020 

Use Permits and the Appeal End Date 

1348-50 Euclid 6/30/2020 

1380 Hearst 6/23/2020 

977 Keeler 6/25/2020 

1346 Ordway 6/30/2020 

2023-25 Shattuck 6/30/2020 

1635 Tacoma 6/30/2020 

2338 Telegraph 6/30/2020 



LINK to Current Zoning Applications https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Planning_and_Development/Land_Use_Division/Current_Zoning_Applications.aspx 




July 21 – Crime report, Climate Action Plan/Resiliency Update 

Sept 29 – Digital Strategic Plan/FUND$ Replacement Website Update, Zero Waste Priorities 

Oct 20 – Update Berkeley’s 2020 Vision, BMASP/Berkeley Pier-WETA Ferry 


Unscheduled Workshops/Presentations 

Cannabis Health Considerations 

Vision 2050 

Ohlone History and Culture (Special meeting) 

Presentation from StopWaste on SB 1383 

Systems Realignment 



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 


If you wish to stop receiving the Weekly Summary of City Meetings please forward the weekly summary you received to kellyhammargren@gmail.com