How Much Government is Too Much?

By Becky O'Malley
Friday April 23, 2010 - 09:04:00 AM

The current discussion about what Americans now think of government, to which NPR has devoted this whole week, can be summed up in one very old Borscht Belt joke:

Two ladies discuss a Catskills hotel: “How did you like it?”

“It was awful. The food was terrible, and there wasn’t enough of it.”

That’s roughly what the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported in “Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor: The People and Their Government” about the principal findings from a series of surveys designed to provide a detailed picture of the public’s opinions about government.

The bottom line? The government’s terrible, and there isn’t enough of it. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

The Activist's Guide to What's Happening in Berkeley This Week

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 10:24:00 AM

This is one busy week for the civic-minded amongst us. I had originally thought to do a preview, without comment, in the news section, of some of the wide selection of meetings that the conscientious Berkeleyan who wanted to be influential or just well informed could attend this week, but I find that I am constitutionally unable to comply with the “without comment”stipulation, so as we move through the week you’ll find some notes on what’s happening and why you should care. -more-

Worth a Look

Thursday April 22, 2010 - 05:15:00 PM

The San Francisco Bay Guardian reports that the San Francisco Democratic Central Committee, chaired by Berkeley High's own Aaron Peskin, passed a resolution opposing Mayor Gavin Newsom's proposal to make it illegal to sit or lie on the sidewalk in that city. Funny, we've had such a law for years--could it be that Berkeley's not as progressive as it thinks it is? -more-


Odd Bodkins -- Happy Chem Trails to You

By Dan O'Neill
Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 11:06:00 AM

The Tea Party

By Justin DeFreitas
Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 11:03:00 AM

Opening Day

Odd Bodkins -- Opening Day

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday April 22, 2010 - 08:56:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 11:41:00 AM

I remain shocked, furious, and appalled by what's been done to the American people and how impervious the banking system and others who aren't living where and how we are in the age of job loss, rising prices, home losses, all the outcomes of the banks' cavalier disregard of those who don't hold the same priivilege--especially legal privilege. -more-

Arizona's Immigration Law and Likely Congressional Immigration Reform

By Ralph E. Stone
Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 12:57:00 PM

Will Arizona’ s draconian immigration law prompt Congress to act soon on immigration reform? Unlikely. The Democrats have too much on their plate right now -- financial reform, global warming legislation, selecting a Supreme Court nominee, selling health care reform to the public -- to tackle the difficult job of comprehensive immigration reform, including a way for undocumented immigrants to become legal. -more-

When Will the University of California Stop Funding War Crimes Against Palestinian Civilians?

Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 11:21:00 AM

When will the University of California stop funding war crimes against Palestinian civilians and the occupation of Palestinian land? How much longer will grieving mothers have to wait for justice? -more-

Rapid Bus Plus is the Best Alternative to Bus Rapid Transit

By Vincent Casalaina
Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 08:15:00 AM

Rapid Bus Plus (RB+) is Berkeley's answer to the environmental disaster that is Bus Rapid Transit(BRT). The RB+ Coalition has been working on this plan since AC Transit's Draft EIRs came out and it became clear that the number of new transit riders on BRt would be negligible and the reduction in greenhouse gases with BRT would be miniscule. We believe that RB+ will provide 80% of the projected benefits of BRT for 20% of the cost and virtually none of the detriments. Beyond that, RB+ can be implemented immediately with the current funds AC Transit has on hand. We don't need to wait another 5 years, or longer, for BRT to be fully funded. We need better public transit today! -more-

Resolution Opposing "Citizens United" Decision at City Council Today (Tuesday)

By Phoebe Sorgren
Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 07:07:00 AM

Ending corporate dominance of our government is key to most of what we want whether climate justice, fair trade, food security, affordable quality healthcare, or -- in many cases -- peace. The "CITIZENS UNITED" Supreme Court ruling against the Federal Elections Commission lifted corporate limits on buying elections, so Berkeley's Peace & Justice Commission recommends that the City Council again call for constitutional amendments saying that a corporation is not a person and may not claim constitutional "rights" (such as corporate financing of election ads being defined as free speech.) These resolutions are researched/vetted by volunteer commissioners, cost the city almost nothing, and have more weight than individual lobbying. Corporations may operate by privilege, the way they did historically, and can more easily be held accountable, when needed, if they no longer have human rights. -more-

New: Court Decision on Chevron EIR Vindicates Richmond Critics

By Tom Butt
Wednesday April 28, 2010 - 02:19:00 PM

In a stunning victory for environmental groups, the California Court of Appeal rejected most of Chevron’s challenge to a lower court decision that stopped construction on a $1 billion refinery upgrade. -more-

Using Section 8 funding to dispose of Berkeley's public housing

By Lynda Carson
Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 03:15:00 PM

Berkeley -- During July 1944, when famed Lieutenant C.D. "Lucky" Lester of the Tuskegee Airmen shot down 3 Nazi enemy aircraft over Europe in a brief span of 4-6 minutes with his P-51 Mustang while on a mission to protect some B-17 Flying Fortresses on their way to bomb a German airfield in southern Germany, he probably had no idea then that his actions would lead to the day he became one of the founders in 1969 of a small venture capital firm called the Inner City Fund, that was later renamed ICF International. It now plays a direct role in the scheme of some high priced consultants who desire to grab Section 8 funding from the poor, to finance their master plan to privatize Berkeley's 75 public housing units. -more-

Letters to the Editor

Thursday April 22, 2010 - 08:08:00 PM

More Nonsense From Israeli Apologists -more-

New: When Will the University of California Stop Funding War Crimes Against Palestinian Civilians?

By Matthew A. Taylor
Monday April 26, 2010 - 01:31:00 PM

When will the University of California stop funding war crimes against Palestinian civilians? How much longer will grieving mothers have to wait for justice? -more-

New: Dangers of Cell Towers Continued

By Harry Brill
Saturday April 24, 2010 - 10:10:00 AM

I am responding to Ray Barglow's disagreement with my Berkeley Planet commentary, which asserts that electromagnetic emissions from cell towers are dangerous to our health and longevity. Ray challenges the studies which claim that these emissions are a public hazard. He believes that they suffer major methodological flaws. Actually, no research on the issue is more flawed than a study that is currently being sponsored by the wireless industry. Incredibly, the industry study excludes certain types of tumors. It even eliminates from the sample those who died or were too sick to answer questions. Ray does note that those whose research he criticizes are not coming to the wrong conclusions because they harbo ulterior motives. But I don't think we could be as generous about those researchers who completely dismiss the issue. -more-

An Open Letter to the Mayor and Councilmembers: What’s the Real Intended Usage of the 2707 Rose Street Structure?

By John English
Thursday April 22, 2010 - 09:23:00 PM

I strongly urge you to either hold your own full public hearing on the 2707 Rose Street project or remand the matter to the Zoning Adjustments Board. The ZAB's glaringly flawed January decision to approve the project needs reconsidering for multiple reasons--one of which this letter discusses. -more-

The Blight Meg Will Bring to Calfornia

By Jack Bragen
Friday April 23, 2010 - 10:52:00 AM

Meg Whitman’s misleading campaign for Governor in which she magically claims to be able to fix California’s ills is another example of the bait and switch tactic that many politicians are using these days. Her campaign states that she will “Create Jobs, Cut Government Spending, and Fix Education.” And so far, we only have a few clues as to how she plans to pull off these violations of the laws of physics. -more-

Moments of Tragedy & Test for Beijing

By Chime Tenzing ( Dharamsala - India )
Thursday April 22, 2010 - 08:33:00 PM

It’s time for Beijing to show the world how far they are ready to translate their concern for the Tibetans into action through a well-planned speedy relief works & requisite aids for the victims of the Kyigudo earthquake -more-

Climate Equity: A Lost Cause?

By Craig Collins, Ph.D.
Thursday April 22, 2010 - 07:31:00 PM

The message delivered by the poor nations and climate activists gathered in Bolivia this week is undeniably just: The world desperately needs an effective climate agreement. Rich countries are primarily responsible for causing this problem and have reaped most of benefits of two centuries of fossil-fueled industrialization. Therefore, they must bear most of the costs of responding to climate change and overcoming the world’s addiction to fossil fuels. Only the callous or ethically challenged would dispute this position on moral grounds. -more-

The Scandal of PG&E's New Meters

By Steve Martinot
Friday April 23, 2010 - 10:48:00 AM

PG&E has been installing what they call "Smartmeters", which broadcast readings of a residence's power usage to PG&E, so that they won't need meter-readers any more. This will give them hourly information on private electric power usage. PG&E has not said why they need this kind of information, except to suggest it is for its customers own good (self-monitoring). But these new meters are a total scandal. -more-

Updated: Judge Richard Goldstone, Invited to Move Bar Mitzvah To San Francisco,to be Honored Instead

By Rabbi Michael Lerner
Thursday April 22, 2010 - 06:29:00 PM

Update: Judge Goldstone will now attend his grandson's Bar Mitzvah after all,according to an email from Rabbi Lerner. -more-