The Week



New: Marking Guantanamo Prison Anniversary Jan. 10 and Active Hope in 2016

Cynthia Papermaster, Berkeley No More Guantanamos
Wednesday January 06, 2016 - 08:57:00 PM

Berkeley will join cities around the country on January 10 in marking the 14th Anniversary of Guantanamo Prison. Cleared prisoners are being released at a snail’s pace. Forced feeding continues, “detainees” have lost hope. We are still holding them without charge and without respect for their rights and the law.

Codepink and the Berkeley Fellowship Social Justice Committee will host an event on January 10 which will include presentations on shutting Guantanamo, prosecuting torture policy-makers-- including UC Law Professor John Yoo, police accountability for murder and brutality, and various additional social and environmental justice issues, with the goal of “climbing out of our silos” (single-issue focus) to better work together on the many critical issues that need addressing. We’re going to hear about victories, and we’re going to strategize for more victories in 2016. Time’s running out for doing things the same old way— we’ve got to unite and work together if we want a future worth living. We’re tired of fighting the power. Let’s take and BE the power in 2016. -more-

New: Berkeley's Suit Against Monsanto Approved

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday January 06, 2016 - 03:07:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council has voted unanimously to file a nuisance lawsuit that seeks to hold Monsanto Co. accountable for the cost of cleaning up contamination that the city believes is linked to the company's products. -more-

New: Corporate Greed and Shortsightedness Will Lead to Demise of U.S. (Opinion)

Jack Bragen
Wednesday January 06, 2016 - 01:15:00 PM

We have heard a number of people complain about the lack of a good immigration policy in America. Donald Trump, in his campaign, boldly proclaimed that a wall will be built. However, Trump knows very well that this will never happen. With imported labor and outsourcing, we have another plantation economy. Corporate America would never give up the cheap imported labor and outsourcing, which is a huge augment to profits. However, this is a source of economic bleeding, in which dollars are leaving the U.S. and going to other countries. -more-

Press Release: New interactive map compares carbon footprints of Bay Area neighborhoods

Robert Sanders, UC Media Relations
Wednesday January 06, 2016 - 12:39:00 PM

The Paris climate summit ended last year with landmark national commitments for greenhouse gas reductions, but much of the hard work of reducing emissions will fall on cities to change their residents’ behavior.

A neighborhood-by-neighborhood inventory of carbon emissions will help households and cities compare and ideally lower their carbon footprints. To do that, cities need data on current carbon emissions, and a new map of neighborhood-by-neighborhood carbon consumption in the San Francisco Bay Area provides this critical information, showing in detail how the region contributes to global climate change.Click on image below to open map. -more-

Berkeley: Scenes of Corruption (Opinion)

Steve Martinot
Wednesday January 06, 2016 - 10:46:00 AM

Toward the end of 2015, we witnessed a degree of political corruption in the Berkeley City Council that was unprecedented – so much so that many commentators at city council meetings proclaimed, “this is not what Berkeley is all about; this is not who we are.” It was a flagrant financial corruption, in which one could discern underhanded “benefits.” It was more a sense of dehumanization, a gap or disconnect that had opened between the government and the people. Insofar as it affected itself in three related political crises, a housing crisis, a crisis of homelessness, and a crisis of policing, this political disconnect appears to have widened to the point of a non-traversability marking the onset of a profound political crisis. In this article, I will spell out how this disconnect expressed itself with respect to the specific issues. I will give a more general portrait of the underlying structure in a sequel to this one. -more-

Updated: Berkeley Council Votes to Join Lawsuits against Monsanto

Councilmember Kriss Worthington
Tuesday January 05, 2016 - 12:22:00 PM

By a vote of 6-0-0-3 on Tuesday January 5, the Berkeley City Council voted to file a nuisance lawsuit to hold Monsanto accountable for cleanup of PCB contamination linked to Monsanto products. -more-

New: Power's Out in Berkeley

Monday January 04, 2016 - 12:35:00 PM

As of this writing, PGE reports that in Berkeley there are eight power outages affecting 3877 Customers. For a map, click here. -more-

New: El Nino Storms Expected to Hit Berkeley, Bay Area Tonight

Jade Atkins (BCN)
Monday January 04, 2016 - 12:20:00 PM

A series of strong Pacific storm systems is expected to hit the Bay Area starting tonight in what National Weather Service officials say is the beginning of the much-anticipated El Nino. -more-

New: The Homelessness Situation (Opinion)

David Esler
Monday January 04, 2016 - 11:57:00 AM

Re: your December 21st editorial, “The Sun Will Shine on Berkeley -- Tomorrow”. The situation with the homeless is indeed distressing, especially in this harsh weather and given the resources of this town and its alleged heritage of compassion. As a volunteer and donor at Berkeley Food & Housing Project for many years, I know that Terrie Light and her staff are working hard on a long-term solution -- the planned consolidated downtown homeless support center -- and supporting a short-term one to address the El Nino season as best they can with limited resources and person power. But the City could certainly do better without the Council voting to criminalize homelessness. If they’re so upset about public urination, then why not provide some damn public restrooms overseen by a few homeless who are willing to work for a little cash (what a concept)? -more-

New: DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Dispatches Awards for 2015 (Opinion)

Conn Hallinan
Sunday January 03, 2016 - 10:18:00 AM

Each year Dispatches From The Edge gives awards to individuals, companies, and governments that make following the news a daily adventure. Here are the awards for 2015 -more-

Flash: Advisory: Police Activity

Berkeley Police
Saturday January 02, 2016 - 04:22:00 PM

Berkeley Police Department is currently involved in police activity in the area of Dana St/Carleton St. Please avoid this area. -more-

The Best Political Fiction of 2015

Bob Burnett
Thursday December 31, 2015 - 02:04:00 PM

Here are my five favorite 2015 reads for fun; all — of course — with political overtones.

5. “The Girl With All the Gifts,” by M.R. Carey. (Science Fiction/Horror) Theme: Police-state abuses A delightfully ghoulish retelling of the classic “Day of the Triffids.” Movie version due for release in 2016.

4. “Blood, Salt, and Water,” by Denise Mina. (Mystery/Police Procedural) Theme: Sexism Thought by many to be the finest mystery writer in the British Isles, Mina is back with her favorite character, Glasgow homicide detective, Alex Morrow. It’s a good story, well written; notable for Mina’s unsparing attention to the sexism that confronts her female detective at every step —perhaps the most realistic series about a woman trying to juggle two careers.

3. “The Three-Body Problem” by Liu Cixin (translated from Chinese). (Science Fiction) Theme: Environmental degradation (!) This interesting, hopeful novel would be a serious contender for book of the year except for the technical complexity (quantum mechanics, signal theory, and artificial intelligence) and the occasionally clunky narrative. Plot: After the cultural revolution, China’s leaders conclude they are losing the arms race to America and Russia and ask aliens for help. A bad idea. -more-



Smash-and-Grab Hits Berkeley

Becky O'Malley
Friday January 01, 2016 - 02:55:00 PM

And a Happy New Year to you too! Last night someone (presumably not an art lover) broke down the gate to our side yard and snatched Mike O’Malley’s two-foot high 30 lb. ceramic sculpture of Eve and Lilith from his “Out of Doors” sculpture display wall. For pictures, see on Tom Dalzell’s QuirkyBerkeley website: A Fence of Doors. And Windows. And Ceramic Sculpture.

As far as we can remember, nothing was amiss when we got home New Year’s morning around 1 a.m., but we might have been too sleepy to notice (we’re getting a bit old for these late hours).

It doesn’t seem to have been simple vandalism—it would have been a lot easier just to smash stuff in situ, so to speak, but they actually made off with this big heavy object. It was a nice sculpture, took a lot of work to build, with an interesting story line which was posted next to it, about Adam’s “first wife” or maybe on-the-side girlfriend Lilith. This apocryphal story seems to be exciting for some adherents of exotic offshoots of the three desert religions, which could have motivated the thief perhaps. Sometimes Lilith is portrayed as a demon, though not in this piece.

In any event, we found the sculpture at the corner of our lot next to the garage, broken into bits which were then laid out in an eerie row along the fence. The heads of both women, as well as Eve’s naked body, were intact. Nearby, we found an empty bottle from Mendocino Red Tail Ale, on the label of which someone had written with a black marker the words “the hope”. Weird, right?

In the deep recesses of my reptile brain I do remember that a partisan of one of those warring desert sects said in one of his poison pen letters to the Planet at least five years ago that he’d pissed on our garage when he was in Berkeley because he thought we were pro-Islam and pro-Communist and worse. He also disclosed that he lived at the time in Ukiah. That’s in Mendocino County, right?

Cue Twilight Zone music. Just sayin’. -more-

Public Comment

Berkeley City Council vs.The Public

Harry Brill
Thursday December 31, 2015 - 04:04:00 PM

Did you listen to the recent Democratic Party Presidential candidates debate? If so, I regret to say that if anyone of these candidates became a member of the Berkeley City Council, they would be on the losing side on a very important issue. In contrast to the majority of the City Council, all three candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley, who was a former governor of Maryland, unequivocally and strongly support paid family leave for working people. -more-

The Democratic Debate

Tejinder Uberoi
Thursday December 31, 2015 - 02:15:00 PM

Both the O’Malley and Sanders campaigns have rightly accused the ‘undemocratic DNC’ of boosting Clinton’s prospects by limiting the number of debates and scheduling them during low-viewership times like Saturday nights. According to Nielsen, only 6.7 million people tuned in to ABC during the last debate — a fraction of the 18 million who watched the fifth Republican debate. -more-

Tamir Rice

Jagjit Singh
Thursday December 31, 2015 - 02:11:00 PM

Once again a family mourns the death of their son, 12 year-old African American, Tamir Rice. On November 22, 2014, a 911 caller reported seeing a young juvenile waving what appeared to be a toy gun. Tragically that vital information was not transmitted to the responding officer. Officer Timothy Loehmann shot Tamir within two seconds after his police cruiser pulled up in front of the boy. Neither Loehmann nor his partner, Frank Garmback administered first aid to save the boy’s life. They then handcuffed Tamir’s 14-year-old sister and threw her to the ground as she ran to her brother’s side, callously leaving the boy to die. Incredibly, an Ohio grand jury returned a decision not to indict following more than a year’s investigation. -more-

Saudi Arabia

Jagjit Singh
Monday December 21, 2015 - 04:09:00 PM

One of the great shortcomings in the American-led fight against the Islamic State is the lack of fighters from Muslim countries. The announcement by Saudi Arabia that it has cobbled together 34 Islamic nations to fight terrorism is not very encouraging. It surely depends on the Saudi’s definition of terrorism. It seems unlikely they will set their sights on their ISIS Sunni brothers. Furthermore, given their abysmal record of killing thousands of civilians, with U.S. supplied weapons, in neighboring Yemen makes it extremely unlikely that they are sincere in fighting ISIS. Saudi Arabia has fomented the growing turmoil in much of the Arab world by funding Wahhabi religious schools and clerics who are spreading the kind of extremist doctrine that is at the heart of the Islamic State’s ideology. -more-

Just Desserts

Phil Allen
Thursday December 31, 2015 - 04:03:00 PM

Could it be that the recent misfortunes of our local NFL teams reflect a territorial gloom their gold-counting concerns seem unaware of, except during public-relations stunts? -more-

January Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Sunday January 03, 2016 - 11:36:00 AM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money.

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Why I Suggest Self-Employment

Jack Bragen
Friday January 01, 2016 - 04:23:00 PM

When dealing with job placement via a mental health agency, a mental health consumer could be grossly underestimated, and could be placed in a position which is well below our capabilities. For example, my wife has a Bachelor's Degree, and a worker at Department of Vocational Rehabilitation placed her in training to become a motel maid. Some mental health professionals presume that we have subnormal intelligence. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Remembering 2015: Republicans Get Conned

Bob Burnett
Thursday December 31, 2015 - 01:14:00 PM

It’s hard to feel sorry for Republicans, given that they control both sides of Congress and two-thirds of state legislatures. It’s difficult to feel compassion for members of a Party who, for much of the year, acted like bullies. Nonetheless, in 2015 the GOP’s rank-and-file get royally conned; not once but twice. -more-


Conn Hallinan
Wednesday December 23, 2015 - 02:20:00 PM

For the third time in a year, the tight-fisted, austerity policies of the European Union (EU) took a beating, as Spanish voters crushed their rightwing government and overturned four decades of two-party reign. Following in the footsteps of Greek and Portuguese voters earlier this year, Spaniards soundly rejected the economic formula of the Troika—the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund—that has impoverished millions of people and driven the jobless rate to almost a quarter of the country. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Employment and Self-Worth

Jack Bragen
Thursday December 31, 2015 - 02:13:00 PM

Society's "work ethic" can be a source of self-punishment, usually in the form of self-critical thoughts. The terminology people use, "working" and "not working," are non-coincidentally the same terms we use when a vacuum cleaner or television are either operating properly or broken and in need of repair.

Many people have been raised in an environment in which praise and acceptance from parents and others was contingent on the job we were doing. This translates later in life to our sense of self-worth being conditional on having a successful career.

As persons with disabilities, this expectation can be a heavy emotional weight. We might believe we "should be working." Yet, trying to fulfill "the work ethic" might be part of the reason why we became ill. -more-

Arts & Events

New: Around & About--Music: Ensemble San Francisco at the City Club

Ken Bullock
Wednesday January 06, 2016 - 01:18:00 PM

Ensemble San Francisco, its players drawn from the San Francisco Symphony, Ballet and Opera orchestras--Christine McLeavey Payne, piano; Laura Griffiths, oboe; Meredith Brown, horn; Rebecca Jackson, violin; Matthew Young, viola and Jonah Kim, cello--will play Brahm's Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano; Britten's Phantasy Quartet; Barber's Cello Sonata, Op 6. and Mozart's Oboe Quartet, 8 p. m. Tuesday, January 12 for Berkeley Chamber Concerts, in its 23rd season, at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, between Dana and Ellsworth. A complimentary wine and cheese reception will follow the performance, a chance to meet the artists. General admission, $30; students through high school, free; post-secondary school students, $15. 525-5211; -more-

New: San Francisco Chamber Orchestra’s New Year’s Eve Concert

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday January 04, 2016 - 12:39:00 PM

Many years ago – how many no one seems to know – San Francisco Chamber Orchestra’s founding Musical Director Edgar Braun (1933-2002) began the tradition of offering a New Year’s Eve concert in Berkeley. Ben Simon, SFCO’s current Music Director, recalls attending these concerts when he was in high school. Currently, SFCO has expanded this tradition by adding, in addition to the Berkeley New Year’s Eve concert, performances on Friday, Jan. 1 in Palo Alto and on Sunday, Jan. 3 at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. On the program this time around were two works by Joseph Haydn – the Sinfonia Concertante in B-flat, Op. 84, and the “Farewell” Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor – plus a Concerto for Three Violins, BWV 1064R, by Johann Sebastian Bach, and an orchestral suite entitled “Quiet City” by Aaron Copland. -more-

New: Audrey Vardanega’s Recital to Honor the Late George Cleve

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday January 04, 2016 - 10:17:00 AM

Now twenty years old, Oakland pianist Audrey Vardanega considers herself a protégée of Maestro George Cleve, the founding Director of Midsummer Mozart and conductor of the San Jose Symphony. Maestro Cleve died in August, shortly after I heard him conduct two Mozart works in kicking off the 2015 Midsummer Mozart Festival -- the overture to the one-act opera Der Schauspieldirektor/The Impresario, and Mozart’s 41st and final Symphony, nicknamed “The Jupiter.” (See my review of this concert in the July 21, 2015 issue of this paper.) To honor Maestro Cleve, Audrey Vardanega put together a program of piano works that spoke to her of George Cleve and the music he loved. Vardanega’s recital took place before a packed house on Sunday evening, January 3, 2016, at Berkeley’s Hillside Club. -more-