The Week



New: Berkeley to Host Global Event on Obama’s "Pacific Pivot" – A Threat to Environment, Democracy and Culture

By Gar Smith
Thursday May 30, 2013 - 01:09:00 PM

Location: Martin Luther King Auditorium, Berkeley. Saturday 10-10PM, Sunday 10-6PM. Saturday $15; Sunday $10; both days $20. Advanced discount tickets available at Full program available online at

In Washington's eyes, the Pacific Ocean is anything but pacific. For more than 100 years, the US has made a habit of sending soldiers across the sea to wage bloody wars in The Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and even inside China. In the process, the US has established temporary and permanent military bases in scores of Pacific Rim nations. Now that situation threatens to become decidedly worse.

In 2011, President Obama announced a new military adventure dubbed the "Pacific Pivot" that called for redirecting 60% of the US military's money and might toward Asia and the Pacific. The Pentagon has already made numerous enemies in the region -- for offenses ranging from servicemen beating and raping local women on Okinawa to the seizure of local Islands (like Pagan in the Marianas) so they can be turned into military bombing ranges.

Meanwhile, the people of the vast Asia-Pacific region have a view of a different future -- one without military bases and foreign domination. They even have a different name for this vast stretch of the planet. They call it Moana Nui ("Great Ocean").

For the residents of Moana Nui, it's clear that Washington's 'Pacific Pivot' represents "a threat to land, water, cultures, sovereignties and peace among Pacific nations and Indigenous Peoples."

With the future of the Pacific Basin at stake, 50 scholars and activists from 20 nations are preparing to convene in Berkeley on June 1 for a two-day "teach-in" on the impacts of US plans to further militarize the region and subject it to neoliberal economic remodeling. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Police Association to Release Results of Taser Study

From Sgt. Chris Stines
Tuesday May 28, 2013 - 11:16:00 AM

The Berkeley Police Association (BPA), representing 168 police officers, will publicly release the results of its survey to voters on the possible use of tasers on Wednesday, May 29 at the Berkeley Police Association office at 1834 University Ave in Berkeley (corner of University and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way). -more-



Berkeley is Burned Up About the Big Tree Brouhaha

By Becky O'Malley
Friday May 24, 2013 - 05:35:00 PM

The East Bay hills don’t need to wait for the next fire storm. There’s one raging right now over a plan to clear thousands of trees—estimates range from 22,000 to 85,00, depending on who you ask—from Berkeley’s Strawberry and Claremont Canyons and parts of the Oakland hills. Some of us who live near the affected area have been aware of this project for a long time and wondered whether it was wise, but others have just recently heard about it and they’re outraged.

It’s shaping up to be an unusual political battle for an area where good vs. evil is usually a clearly defined contest. Gay marriage? Sure. Solar power? Sure. Bicycles lanes? Sure. (Well at least if you’re under 60 and vigorously fit.)

But this struggle, in the first place, pits two groups of tree huggers against one another, and both sides seem to manifest a quasi-religious fervor reminiscent of the Great Crusades. Those on one side (the native plant fans—short for fanatics) long to purify the hills above Berkeley and restore them to their pristine pre-colonization state. The other side just likes a nice walk in the woods from time to time, and isn’t particular about the pedigree of the flora.

And if that weren’t enough, there’s a third flank populated by people who don’t care much about trees one way or the other, but are very worried about fire. And of course all three populations overlap.

What makes this an interesting conflict is that in various ways they’re all “right”. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

No, You Haven't Missed Anything

Sunday June 02, 2013 - 02:33:00 PM

The next issue is late. A reader told me not to apologize so much for irregular publication dates, so I won't. -more-


Odd Bodkins: Bunnies don't talk. (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Monday May 27, 2013 - 06:29:00 PM

Bounce: ... and more Thrills and Terror (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Monday May 27, 2013 - 06:35:00 PM

Public Comment

New: Move-On Petition Opposes FEMA Tree Project

By Lesley Emmington
Saturday May 25, 2013 - 06:24:00 PM

This is not about architectural preservation but natural preservation. I have been reading the EIS for the proposed clear cutting and herbicide application in the Berkeley Hills, specifically Strawberry Canyon, and it is complete overkill--cutting 12,000 trees and applying herbicide to the trunks, including herbicides which are used to eliminate native trees, just not the trees FEMA seems to like.

Fire can be controlled in a more effective manner by selective cutting and clearing as has been done at LBNL.

I received this petition from and am passing it on to others who may share my concerns. If you want all the details on what is proposed, check

To sign the petition, click here: -more-

New: EBRPD-Oakland Fire Hazard EIS

By Anne Krysiak
Saturday May 25, 2013 - 06:22:00 PM

I am not a tree hugger or an activist. Three weeks before our wedding on November 9, 1991, my husband lost everything he owned in the Oakland HIlls Firestorm. I have every sympathy and interest in fire mitigation. I now live near the Lake Chabot area referenced in this proposal.

The problem I have is that this EIS proposal has been essentially hidden from public review. If it hadn't been for an activist finding out about the final public meetings at the last minute and contacting the press, none of the affected residents would've been aware the meetings. Why? -more-

FEMA Proposal is Not the Answer

By Steve Martinot
Friday May 24, 2013 - 06:01:00 PM

EMA is proposing a plan to deter fire danger by clearcutting several forest areas in the hills, targetting eucalyptus mostly, and spraying herbicides to kill undergrowth.

Here are some facts about the plan.

The herbicides they will be using (spraying) are highly carcinogenic. That means the plan will be detrimental to people. We cannot say which ones. On FEMA's own account, they will be spraying 60 feet from water sources.

The plan will be highly beneficial to Monsanto. -more-

Camelot Redux (Or the Democrats’ Built-In Death Wish)

By David Esler
Friday May 24, 2013 - 06:15:00 PM

Rant Warning! The following commentary has been assigned an AR Rating (for “Angry Rant”) by Daily Planet editors. It is the work of a disenchanted old geezer and former supporter of the Obama Administration. Children and idealists should be accompanied by an adult if reading this. The editors sincerely wish the author a speedy recovery and return to a semblance of harmony. The Daily Planet assumes no responsibility for disillusionment expressed in this commentary. -more-

Cops or Counselors? The Militarization of Mental Health

By Andrea Prichett
Friday May 24, 2013 - 10:30:00 PM

Recent events in Berkeley have laid bare many of the weaknesses in our approach to caring for those with mental illness. The February 2013 death of Kayla Moore in police custody is just the most recent example. There have been others such as the tragic murder of Berkeley resident Peter Cukor in his own home by a mentally ill person. There was also the recent hog-tying and hooding of homeless youth Jeremy Carter though he was never even accused of being violent and, of course, the daily pipeline of individuals who, instead of getting help managing their mental health, are being processed into prisons where they are in even more jeopardy. The current government system protects neither the person needing help or the public. It begs the question of whether it is the police who should be responding to mental health cases at all. -more-

An honest error, arrogant neglect, or a just a random slap in the face?

By John Herbert
Friday May 24, 2013 - 06:44:00 PM

Last weekend folks managing BUSD/Tim Mollering Memorial Field left irrigation systems running for what appears to have been 72 hours. It is still running at the time of this writing I believe. At a rate of what appears to be nearly 200 gals a minute down into the storm drains.

I observed a twenty-four hour cycle of this by virtue of the park being on my route for walking my dogs.

I observed water running Sunday 7 am, Sunday 7 pm and Monday 6 am.

In comments made by city representatives, this problem may have started as early as Friday May 17.

Calls to BPD, City 311, EBMUD, and BUSD resulted in no correction of this wasteful happenstance. -more-

Conscientious Objector Day Remarks

By Bob Meola
Friday May 24, 2013 - 06:36:00 PM

Welcome to the 7th annual Berkeley CO and War Resisters’ Day. In 2007, the Mayor and the City Council proclaimed May 15th, “…as the day on which Berkeley acknowledges, honors, and celebrates conscientious objectors and war resisters, civilian and military, past, present, and future.” May 15th is also International Conscientious Objectors’ Day. The City publicly recognized “that conscientious objectors and war resisters, past and present, civilian and military, have, due to conscience and principle, often sacrificed their time and freedom in prison or in exile or underground; and…conscientious objectors and war resisters often worked to end war and have refused for moral, ethical, political or religious reasons to participate in war; and…their resistance to militarism sets a noble example and an outstanding model for our youth and our whole community; and… their strength and their courage in following their consciences is often unsung.” -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Good Grief, Barack Obama!

By Bob Burnett
Friday May 24, 2013 - 05:54:00 PM

The most famous running joke in the Peanuts comic strip repeats at the beginning of every football season. Charlie Brown asks Lucy to hold the ball for him so he can kick it. At the last moment, just before Charlie gets his foot on the pigskin, Lucy snatches it away. Despite years of torment, each new season Charlie Brown finds a reason to believe that Lucy will hold the ball down where he can kick it. But this never happens. Sound familiar? It’s the story of Barack Obama and the Republican Congress. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Time for Israel to Accept the Arab Peace Initiative as s Basis for Peace Negotiations

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday May 24, 2013 - 05:48:00 PM

What happened to the recent Arab Peace Initiative (API) unanimously endorsed by the 22-member Arab League in 2002 at the Beirut Summit of the Arab League? It is time for Israel to accept the API as a basis for peace negotiations. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Oasis of Sanity

By Jack Bragen
Thursday May 23, 2013 - 07:40:00 AM

I am sitting at home after an uneventful outing of doing errands; I have a deep peacefulness as I look at the overcast light filter in through the blinds in my living room, and as I sit in my chair facing my computer. Things seem bright and cheerful, safe and sane, peaceful and comfortable. It has not always been this way. It has been literally decades that I haven't felt safe like this. And yet, the externals in my life are not so different. Sure, at times there have been crises that needed to be dealt with, but there were also uneventful times in which I should have felt at peace, and didn't. -more-

Arts & Events

New: Don't Miss This

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Saturday May 25, 2013 - 06:28:00 PM

One might easily imagine that things in the East Bay would slow down over the Memorial Day Weekend. Not so! There's actually a plethora of exciting events and entertainment the next several days. (How do you like that "plethora?") -more-

Berkeley Theaters Win 13 Critics' Circle Awards

By John A. McMullen II
Friday May 24, 2013 - 05:41:00 PM
Jonathan Moscone of Cal Shakes and Tony Taccone of Berkeley present awards at the Gala

Sixty actors, directors, and designers received the Critics Circle “Outstanding” awards at the Critics Circle’s Awards Gala & Dance Party held at the California Ballroom in Oakland on May 6. -more-