The Week

A sprinkler decided to celebrate the 4th of July by wildly expressing itself in front of City Hall around 10:00 am. There was no truth to the rumor that radical anarchist sidewalk chalk was responsible for the accidental baptism of the City Hall steps.
A sprinkler decided to celebrate the 4th of July by wildly expressing itself in front of City Hall around 10:00 am. There was no truth to the rumor that radical anarchist sidewalk chalk was responsible for the accidental baptism of the City Hall steps.


Reply to Harry Brill Re: November election (Public Comment)

Elsa Labonski
Wednesday July 13, 2016 - 02:04:00 PM

I would like to ask Harry Brill to remember that Al Gore won the popular vote in the 2000 election. All votes are not equal. If his protest approach leaks over to states like Florida, where even now I hear people proposing to vote for third party candidates, the election could easily go to Trump. Control of at least the Senate is as important as the Presidential race. Potential appointees to the Supreme Court will make even more difference than the Presidency, because they are for life. The best hope for implementing the political revolution that Sen. Sanders promoted is to take back the legislative branch from the obstructionist party, and pass the legislation we need. This election is definitely not the time for a protest vote. -more-

The West Berkeley Shell Mound (Events)

Malcolm Margolin, as forwarded by Richard Schwartz
Tuesday July 12, 2016 - 10:33:00 AM

Are you free this Tuesday, July 12, from 5:00 to about 7:30 pm? I’d like to convene an informal public meeting to discuss development plans for the site of the West Berkeley Shell Mound and to explore possible options. The meeting will be held at the East Bay Media Center, 1939 Addison Street, Berkeley. -more-

Council to hear 1500 San Pablo Avenue Appeal

Toni Mester
Tuesday July 12, 2016 - 10:31:00 AM

A public hearing will be held on the neighbors’ appeal of 1500 San Pablo Avenue, a 5 story 171-unit residential development between Cedar and Jones, at the City Council on Tuesday July 19 at 7 PM. The application and related material can be found on the project web page: -more-

Rules for "Public Comment"

Monday July 11, 2016 - 09:57:00 PM

If you want to have an opinion of any length posted in our "Public Comment" section, please indicate that clearly by sending it to so we know it's not just a personal comment that you don't intend to have published. This includes copies of letters to City Council etc. that you want published as an "open letter". We require comments to be signed by the author's full name, and we want a phone number, not for publication, to check authorship when necessary. -more-

Berkeley Apartment Fire on University near San Pablo

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Saturday July 09, 2016 - 11:06:00 PM

A fire this afternoon on a second-floor balcony of a Berkeley apartment building caused roughly $25,000 of damage, a Berkeley fire official said. -more-

Updated: Five arrested in Oakland protest

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday July 08, 2016 - 12:30:00 PM

Five people were arrested and one person was given a citation for vandalism, bottles thrown at officers and graffiti during an anti-police march in Oakland on Thursday night, police said. -more-

Protests close Interstate 880, now re-opened

Dennis Culver (BCN)
Friday July 08, 2016 - 10:14:00 AM

The California Highway Patrol this morning is reporting all lanes of Interstate Highway 880 in Oakland have reopened following a night of protests that spilled onto the highway.

A Sig-alert issued was canceled at 1:15 a.m., and both northbound and southbound lanes of the highway have reopened, according to the CHP. -more-

Berkeley man charged for resisting officers in alleged attack

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Thursday July 07, 2016 - 10:12:00 PM

A Berkeley man was charged today with four counts of resisting a police officer and two counts of exhibiting a deadly weapon for a scuffle outside a West Berkeley grocery store on Tuesday that left four officers injured, police said. -more-

Press Release: Advisory: Arrest of suspect in 2008 Sexual Assault Series

Berkeley Police Department
Friday July 08, 2016 - 10:50:00 AM

In 2008, the Berkeley Police Department investigated a sexual assault series involving at least three victims and several other peeping/prowling cases. Despite a large amount of diligent work and undercover operations we were not able to capture the suspect. We did obtain fingerprints at one of the crime scenes before the series stopped. In March 2016, Berkeley Police arrested a person for traffic warrant. The fingerprints obtained during the jail booking process arrest matched the fingerprints recovered at the scene of a sexual assault in Berkeley from 2008. -more-

American Nuremberg: Putting Washington's War Criminals on Trial

Book review by Gar Smith
Friday July 08, 2016 - 10:16:00 AM

"To initiate a war of aggression is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

—Judgment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg

Enhanced interrogation. Extraordinary rendition. Abduction and detention. Black sites. Massive surveillance of civilians. Militarization of domestic police. Presidential kill lists. Assassination drones.

Any honest review of the aggregating crimes of America's political leaders gives rise to a nagging question: Isn't it time someone threw the book at them?

Well, the wait is over. We now have the book. -more-

Sensing Light: Remembering a Dark Time
A New Book by Mark A. Jacobson

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Friday July 08, 2016 - 10:11:00 AM

Don't be put off by the title. Sensing Light, Mark A. Jacobson's hefty new novel, is not about some illuminating traipse down the pathways of spiritual enlightenment—except in the darkest possible definition. Instead, the subject of this sprawling, heart-punching feat of modern storytelling is foreshadowed in the subtitle: "1979. An epidemic begins…."

Yes, this is a story about the AIDS epidemic.

Jacobson, a San Francisco-based author, has written a haunting novel populated with memorable characters that we quickly come to know and care about deeply. The book is a crackling good read. Jacobson is a master of the conversational novel. -more-



Four who fixed the world

Becky O'Malley
Friday July 08, 2016 - 09:30:00 AM

In the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten forceful reminders of the finite nature of our life on earth, and probably of our corporeal existence in the universe. Three longtime friends died, and there was a memorial gathering for a fourth. All of them in their own way did their best to carry out what I understand from my Jewish friends to be our duty here, as documented by the invaluable Wikipedia: Tikkun olam (Hebrew: תיקון עולם or תקון ע. ולם‎‎) (literally, "repair of the world). Of course, as Wikipedia goes on to say, there are Jewish scholars who would dispute that interpretation of the traditional phase, but whatever the authority, repairing the world is a worthy goal.

Ben Bagdikian, Don Jelinek, Martha Nicoloff, Michael Pachovas: ¡Presente! -more-

Public Comment

There's Money In Homelessness -- Review of the S. F. Homeless Project

Carol Denney
Monday July 04, 2016 - 09:45:00 PM

The San Francisco Chronicle spearheaded a blizzard of coverage in June 2016 on homelessness which included 70 news outlets by its own count, calling it the "S. F. Homeless Project." And after a week of homeless-focused stories, the San Francisco Chronicle put an editorial on its own front page endorsing the status quo: more money for "services", of course, and good luck with that. But the rest sounded pretty familiar; stricter tracking systems for the use of "services", more enforcement of anti-homeless laws, and continued street sweeps of tent cities as a way to "ensure that the people who are offered this array of assistance are no longer afforded the option to flout the law with impunity." -more-

Come All of You Tech Workers

Carol Denney
Monday July 04, 2016 - 09:43:00 PM

(An updated version of Which Side Are You On, a song written in 1931 by Florence Reece, the wife of Sam Reece, a union organizer for the United Mine Workers in Harlan County, Kentucky)

come all of you tech workers

and stop the war on tents

you've got to know you've played a role

in skyrocketing rents

chorus: which side are you on -more-

Toward a Politics of Hope

Harry Brill
Friday July 08, 2016 - 10:22:00 AM

Despite Hillary being a long political distance away from my ideal candidate, Trump is even much further away. But what troubles me about the discussions and debates about the presidential candidates, the discourse is mainly guided as it often is by the politics of fear. We support a candidate not because of our enthusiasm but mainly to avoid the serious risk of electing the alternative. -more-

India’s Rosa Parks

Jagjit Singh
Monday July 04, 2016 - 10:24:00 AM

When the priests of Nashik District in Maharashtra, India, learned that a woman had defiled the sanctity of Shani Shingnapur Temple they swung into action with an elaborate purification process, smothering the deity with yogurt and honey. Then they suspended a temple security guard for his laxity allowing a woman to enter the temple for the first time in its 350-year history. Security was tightened and the priests heaved a sigh of relief vowing that such a travesty would never be repeated. But they had not counted on the fierce determination of Trupti Desai, who had hitherto championed the rights of slum dwellers. The frenzied cleaning by the priests, implying that women were unclean because they menstruate, outraged and galvanized Trupi to action. “How dare the priests discriminate between men and women, - why are we unworthy of entering the temple? “God doesn’t discriminate between men and women. Why should religion?” -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Predicting the Presidential Election

Bob Burnett
Friday July 08, 2016 - 10:08:00 AM

Four months before the presidential election, Hillary Clinton is ahead of Donald Trump. Three factors will determine the November 8th outcome.

As of July 8th, Hillary has a 5.8 percentage lead in the Huffington Post poll of polls; of the last 10 major polls, only one showed Trump ahead. The respected Cook Report projects Clinton with 304 electoral votes, Trump with 190, and 44 contested (Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Ohio). The esteemed statistician, Nate Silver, says that Trump has only a 20 percent chance to win.

Nonetheless, it’s possible for Trump to prevail in November. Three factors will determine the ultimate outcome. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:The Brexit & Spain: Europe On The Edge?

Conn Hallinan
Thursday July 07, 2016 - 09:41:00 PM

On the surface, the June 23 Brexit and the June 26 Spanish elections don’t look comparable. After a nasty campaign filled with racism and Islamophobia, the British—or rather, the English and the Welsh—took a leap into darkness and voted to leave the European Union (EU). Spanish voters, on the other hand, rejected change and backed a rightwing party that embodies the policies of the Brussels-based trade organization. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT:"Emailgate"--a brief legal explanation

Ralph E. Stone
Friday July 08, 2016 - 10:51:00 AM

Attorney General Loretta Lynch made it official saying that Hillary Clinton will not be charged for using a personal email server during her tenure as secretary of state. She is relying on the FBI's recommendation that no charges be filed. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Medical Complications

Jack Bragen
Thursday July 07, 2016 - 09:53:00 PM

This week's column does not specifically cover all possible medication side effects of the drugs prescribed for psychiatric problems; there are too many to list here, and many are quite common. Instead, I am focusing on some of the things that shorten the lifespans of persons with mental illness.

The average lifespan of people with chronic mental illness is approximately 25 years less than that of the general population. This is partly due to being medicated, since the medications have side effects that are bad for physical health. It is partly due to smoking, much more common among persons with mental illness than non-afflicted people. It is due to poor self-care. In addition, physicians do less to address the health problems of persons with psych disabilities. -more-

Arts & Events

Zero Days: Alex Gibney's Disturbing Film Reveal the Dark Forces Behind the Stuxnet Computer Worm

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Friday July 08, 2016 - 12:22:00 PM

Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley July 8

Welcome to the Brave New World of Cyber War. Our guide today is Alex Gibney, acclaimed director of Taxi to the Dark Side, We Steal Secrets, and ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room. We're in good hands: Gibney has been honored with Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, the Peabody, the Writers Guild of America Award and (in 2013) the International Documentary Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Several weeks ago, Gibney visited San Francisco for a Q&A following a press screening of Zero Days, his edgy new documentary about the Stuxnet computer virus that destroyed Iran's uranium centrifuges and went on to wreak cyber-havoc around the world.

Accompanying Gibney to the SF screening were Eric Chen and Liam O'Murchu, two local computer geeks from Semantec. Chen and O'Murchu are the "heroes" of the film. Their work-day job at Semantec is to protect computers from viruses and malware. To do that, they need to identify and track the nature of each example of cyber-snarkiness that comes their way. But they had never seen anything like the Sworm. (No one had.) It was these two guys who gave the worm its name.

Gibney's investigation makes a convincing case that the US (in partnership with Israel) created the worm to destroy Iran's nuclear processing ability. The suspicion is that US hoped to forestall an impending Israeli air attack that could have spread fallout over the region—and may well have triggered a major (perhaps cataclysmic) war. -more-