Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) released the following statement in opposition to the debt ceiling deal released on Sunday night: -more-
Two University of California at Berkeley graduates are scheduled to stand trial in Iran on Sunday on charges of espionage and entering the country illegally. -more-
Between August 3 and August 8, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will hold three public meetings about possibly locating its second campus in or partly in Berkeley. Each meeting will deal with one of the six finalist venues for the new facility; the other three contenders are in Alameda, Richmond and Oakland, respectively. If the three Berkeley meetings have the same format as the initial gathering, in Alameda, members of the public will be given two minutes apiece to speak. -more-
Press Release: Major Environmental Groups Oppose Albany City Effort to Bar Non-Resident Comment on Proposal to Combine Lawrence Berkeley Labs and Shopping Mall on Golden Gate Fields Site
The City of Albany is restricting public debate on a major Golden Gate Fields development proposal involving Lawrence Berkeley Lab's proposed campus, according to a group of organizations and community leaders who say the public is being excluded from debate at City workshops paid for by the developer. -more-
I have just completed a very preliminary examination of the Norwegian manifesto posted just before the Oslo bombings. It is an astonishing and significant document, far from the incoherent ravings of a mad person, as I would wish it to be. And it is incredibly chilling in its ruthless rationality and relative coherence. Here, I offer some initial reflections. I have concentrated on the portions from page 717 forward, where the author details ideology, revolutionary strategy, and utopian vision of a future, federated Europe. Beginning on p. 1388, the author offers an autobiography and c.v. of Breivik, which presumably will be checked out by investigators and the media, plus a quite detailed account of his actions over the past several years. A number of important comparisons already have been made -- to al Qaida and the Oklahoma City bombing, for example. But in many ways, if the perpetrator indeed acted alone, he is something of a piece with the Unabomber, who similarly combined ruthless action with a carefully elaborated manifesto. There are important difference, to be sure. In particular, the Unabomber worked to conceal his identity so that he could carry out multiple actions, and he operated out of an environmental left ideology rather than a Christian nationalism. -more-
Three Green Luminaries squared off at Berkeley’s David Brower Center on July 21 during a contentious debate over the future of nuclear energy. The so-called “Fix It or Nix It” debate pitted Native American activist (and two-time Green Party vice-presidential candidate) Winona LaDuke against Stewart Brand, legendary founder of the Whole Earth Catalogue and, more recently, a vocal advocate for nuclear energy. The debate was moderated by Mark Hertzgaard and co-sponsored by the Earth Island Institute and The Nation magazine. -more-
In recent years, homeowners have been made to feel a bit like villains rather than the victims of hard times, Wall Street shenanigans and inept regulators. Instead of being praised for braving the elements, suburban homeowners have been made to feel responsible for everything from the Great Recession to obesity to global warming.
In California, the assault on the house has gained official sanction. Once the heartland of the American dream, the Golden State has begun implementing new planning laws designed to combat global warming. These draconian measures could lead to a ban on the construction of private residences, particularly on the suburban fringe. The new legislation’s goal is to cram future generations of Californians into multi-family apartment buildings, turning them from car-driving suburbanites into strap-hanging urbanistas. -more-
This Berkeley crime reporter sucks up to Berkeley police (university and city). It's more than a bias; it's abject fear. For most of us—whether for or against cops—our biases stem from fear of authority, according to Alfred Hitchcock. -more-
In his blog today, Paul Krugman tackles a virus which has almost taken over the body politic, insidious creeping centrism. The whole piece is well worth reading, but here’s the money quote:
“We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.
“So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.”
Professor Krugman, now almost the only intelligent voice allowed to be heard in the corporate press, spent most of his early career in academic economics, so it’s no wonder that he’s shocked at what’s going on in national politics and how the situation is being covered in the press. But sad to say, militant centrism is not all that new. It’s just gotten much, much worse lately. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
A tasty little treat provided by Berkeley's Magnatunes for our enjoyment.
Budget Deficit; Debt Ceiling; Tea Party = Republican Suicide -more-
Is there anyone in Berkeley who wants the skyline of the city to be defined, night and day, by blatant commercial advertising?
It’s hard to imagine there is—other than, perhaps, a few libertarians who don’t like any sort of governmental regulation on principle, or some property owners who always put profit above community.
However, the City of Berkeley has now allowed commercial signage to prominently mark the tallest building in Downtown Berkeley, and the door is open for anyone else to do the same. -more-
The preservation of Berkeley Iceland, a major goal of Save Berkeley Iceland, was solidified in the Summer of 2010 when the California State Historical Resources Commission found the building eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. At the same time the rink was listed on the State Register of Historical Resources. This reaffirms the 2007 landmark designation by the Berkeley Landmark Preservation Commission. While the preservation of the building is secure, the future of Berkeley Iceland as a community asset is still threatened. -more-
First, we are a civilized people. We are, after all, Berkeleyans. We abhor violence and have institutionalized and elevated the pursuit of peace to the level of religion. We led the resistance to Bush’s invasion of Iraq, and our Congressional district’s representative—herself a resident of Our Fair City—was the only one of more than 400 House members to vote against U.S. action in Afghanistan immediately after 9/11. So we would never raise a hand against another human being, not even in self defense. We are, after all, Berkeleyans…. -more-
I turn 70 this summer, and I've been fearing that President Obama was about to make a deal cutting Social Security and Medicare. But a few days ago on KPFA I heard of something just as bad--a possibility I hadn't even thought of. Obama is considering a deal to close tax loopholes which would eliminate the "home mortgage interest write-off." It's part of the Gang of Six Plan to reduce the deficit. -more-
Despite the very nature and raison d’etre of Congress as a forum to discuss and negotiate solutions to the nation’s needs, we are knee-deep in “my-way-or-the-highway” season. Eric Canter, the glum and sophomoric Virginian, and Minority Whip Jon Kyl (of “wasn’t meant to be a factual statement” when talking about the Planned Parenthood budget fame) walked out of debt ceiling talks, and John Boehner too walked out and said “I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the leaders of the Senate in an effort to find a path forward." (beholden to his Tea Party contingency), vowing to leave taxes as they are but cut spending by several trillion dollars over ten year. Really? This is a transparently ideological maneuver manifested by a total lack of understanding of the intricacies of our political process: a single-minded posturing to promote a single-strategy approach, cutting spending a la Grover Norquist. -more-
My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, followed by comments added by the reader.)
“I had time to learn Greek because I was not invited to dinner.”
—from the letters of George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans),, (1819-1880)
After any setback, that dry, flat, ironic quotation has always inspired me to “stop whining and get back to work!” -more-
The assassination of Ahmed Wali Karzai in Kandahar July 12 is one of those moments when the long and bloody Afghanistan war suddenly comes into focus. It is not a picture one is eager to put up on the wall. -more-
As he heads for the debt-limit showdown with Republicans, President Obama cannot be comforted by the latest Gallup Poll that shows him trailing the generic Republican Presidential candidate by five percentage points. Republicans won’t vote for him; Obama has lost support among Independents and has alienated many Democrats. What happened? -more-
“Smell” is an interesting verb. It can mean either the production or the reception of an olfactory signal. “The old dog smells bad” and “The old dog smells badly” are equally valid and meaningful sentences. -more-
A belated happy birthday to Nelson Mandela on his 93rd birthday. He was born on July 18, 1918. -more-
Question: I rent an apartment. The landlord doesn’t provide rent receipts, and my checking account doesn’t provide cancelled checks. How can I get receipts for my rent without incurring the owner’s wrath? -more-
NIMBY, in case you’ve been living under a rock, stands for “Not In My Back Yard,” and is a reflection of people’s unacknowledged prejudice toward a group of people who are fine with you as long as they reside somewhere else. NIMBY-ism is a widespread phenomenon. For example; in a small group of aspiring authors (who were mostly obnoxious, as are most aspiring authors) I heard a conversation of how someone didn’t want their neighborhood ruined by “the low income housing” being built. (At the time, I didn’t mention that I happened to be a “low income” person and was in their writing group.) -more-
Arts & Events
When approaching the Julia Morgan Theatre Center at the premature hour of 7 pm on Friday night last, I was confronted by many miniature homunculi which caused me to gasp and grasp tight the hand of my companion. She reassured me that they were only children. I was not anticipating them. I don’t get out much, except to go to theatre, and thankfully they are seldom there since they make noise and fidget.
It was the Berkeley Playhouse—which I had hitherto eschewed for the above reasons, and out of a preference for tragedy and irony. And to make matters more dire, this was SEUSSICAL, THE MUSICAL, god help us all. But I had been invited by a creative colleague, so I held my breath, if not my nose, and deigned to attend.
For all my Grinch-like persona and curmudgeonly mien, I must unequivocally and highly RECOMMEND this production to everyone, regardless of age. The Broadway-worthy performances of the cast are the first reason. Indeed, the performances are so engaging that the rug-rats—probably a third of the audience—are for the most part quiet and rapt for the entire two hours plus. -more-
Hearing of the killer heat wave in much of the nation, thanks to the powers that be, we in the bay area have our wonderful natural air conditioning. We also have some great entertainment lined up for the summer. -more-
Berkeley Symphony Board of Directors today announced the selection of its new executive director, René Mandel, to head the 42-year-old organization. His appointment is the culmination of a nationwide search that began in April. Mandel will succeed current Executive Director James Kleinmann, who served Berkeley Symphony since 2006, and assume his duties with the orchestra on August 1. -more-
Kind of an inversion of Plaza Suite, Neil Simon's comedy of three little comic melodramas in the same hotel room, a part in each essayed by the same actor, Alan Ayckbourn's Communicating Doors proves to be a doorslammer that echoes down the corridors of time. -more-
Duerrenmatt's The Visit, with Carla Spindt, Solano College Theatre, outdoors--free! Woodminster Summer Musicals stages My Fair Lady -more-
For those heading down the coast, the Carmel Bach Festival is in its last week, with unusual programs like Stephen Prutsman's Bach, Jazz and the Spaces In Between, in which the San Francisco pianist plays his solo piece, Bach & Forth, working off themes from J. S. Bach, Charlie Parker and Schoenberg, as well as being joined by a string quartet for arrangements--some by Prutsman--of pieces by Bach, Dizzy Gilllespie, John Coltrane, Joe Zawinul, and Turkish and Uzbeki music, teasing out the relationships Prutsman discovers `in the mix. -more-