The Week

Hundreds gathered at Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park at 7:00 AM on Friday to greet the dawn and show Berkeley solidarity after the national election results by forming a giant peace symbol.  Mayor elect Jesse Arreguin and Councilmember Linda Maio and incoming Councilmember Sophie Hahn spoke, and joined with other elected officials in a line behind noted Berkeley folk singer Gary Lapow who sang his own version of "Hallejah" for and with the crowd.
Steven Finacom
Hundreds gathered at Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park at 7:00 AM on Friday to greet the dawn and show Berkeley solidarity after the national election results by forming a giant peace symbol. Mayor elect Jesse Arreguin and Councilmember Linda Maio and incoming Councilmember Sophie Hahn spoke, and joined with other elected officials in a line behind noted Berkeley folk singer Gary Lapow who sang his own version of "Hallejah" for and with the crowd.


New: Help Requested for Tent City - “First they came for the homeless” (PUBLIC COMMENT)

Marcia Poole
Wednesday November 23, 2016 - 10:48:00 PM

We are requesting the residents of Berkeley reach out to those in their community who are less fortunate. We ask this with the sincere hope that it awakens the community to immediate and compassionate action. -more-

New: Birds around Berkeley

William Woodcock
Monday November 21, 2016 - 10:59:00 AM
Egret with Fish

When things get tough, the tough can watch birds. These gorgeous photos, taken frequently by Bill Woodcock in and around Berkeley, will offer you a chance to see what birds are here now, and maybe even to learn their names. -more-

New: Coalition Unites to Stop Raids on Tents

Carol Denney
Tuesday November 22, 2016 - 05:36:00 PM

A coalition of commissions, homeless people, and concerned community members are demanding that the City of Berkeley stop the raids on tent communities which are continuing despite the lack of alternatives for people trying to survive on the street. -more-

New: Hundreds gather for Berkeley "Together We Rise" event

Steven Finacom
Friday November 18, 2016 - 11:02:00 PM
The human peace symbol from above, in a screen shot from filmmaker Kevin Kunze’s video.

Hundreds of Berkeley residents and other locals came to Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park just before sunrise on Friday, November 18, 2016 at the request of Mayor Elect Jesse Arreguin.

“What an incredible crowd and what an incredible moment for our city” Arreguin said, as the sun began to glow through the seventy-five year old poplar trees behind him. “While many of us may still be coming out of the darkness, we are here, and our love of Berkeley shines bright.”

Behind the crowd, the spire of old Berkeley City Hall was touched with the gold light while the park itself was still in shadow.

“This is a time of renewal in Berkeley, and I know it may seem crazy but I feel energized. I really do. It takes a lot more than one crummy election to defeat us, right?”, he said to applause. “I have doubled down on my resolve, and I know you will too.”

The literal centerpiece of the gathering, which was quickly organized and promoted through social media by local arts impressario Lisa Bullwinkel, was a human peace symbol that participants formed on and around the central lawn of the historic park. -more-

New: Dr. Toy Says “No! Toy Guns” ©

Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D.
Sunday November 20, 2016 - 07:41:00 PM

We applaud the City Council of Baltimore for taking on the issue of toy guns and banning them. The Baltimore City Council gave preliminary approval Monday to a citywide ban on toy guns that look like working handguns and rifles. Council members introduced the legislation after a 14-year-old East Baltimore boy holding a BB gun was shot by a police detective.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said replica guns are contributing to increased violence on Baltimore's streets. He said people are using fake weapons in robberies, and children who carry them are put in harm's way. There have been more than 800 shootings in Baltimore this year. “It's something that we should do for the safety of our children,” Young said. “We're getting stores robbed with replicas. We've got people running around with these things and they look real. ...I don't think we should be allowing replica guns in the city of Baltimore, especially with the murder rate we have.”

A police detective in East Baltimore shot and wounded 14-year-old Dedric Colvin in the shoulder and leg in April. Police said the boy was carrying a spring-air-powered BB gun that resembled a semiautomatic pistol. He survived the shooting. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called the Daisy brand PowerLine Model 340 spring-air pistol that Dedric was carrying an “absolute, identical replica semiautomatic pistol.” City Councilman James B. Kraft introduced the proposed ban. He said, “The easiest way to resolve this is to get the replica guns off the streets.” -more-

Press Release: Alameda County Final Vote Count Results released

Guy Ashley, Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office
Friday November 18, 2016 - 10:58:00 PM

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office completed ballot processing this evening and has released Unofficial Final election results from the November 8 General Election. -more-

New: Trump Has NOT Been Elected . . . Yet-- How We Can Stop Trump and Act to Make America a Democracy

Gar Smith
Sunday November 20, 2016 - 07:40:00 PM

When it comes to electing presidents, the US has never been a democracy. More than 108 countries practice the direct popular election of their leaders but the US is not one of them.

The US is one of six countries that rely on a parliamentary or an Electoral College system—we're right up there with Estonia, Germany, India, Pakistan and Surinam. (Among the countries arguably "more democratic" than the US: Abkhazia, Chad, El Salvador, Haiti, Iran, Mongolia, Nigeria, Russia, South Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the Republic of Korea.)

When Donald Trump complains that "The system is rigged!" he's right. With the Electoral College, it's rigged in his favor.


Press Release: Davila prevails in District 2, first incumbent unseated since 1994

Noah Sochet
Friday November 18, 2016 - 10:55:00 PM

With more than 8100 ballots counted in Berkeley’s District 2, Cheryl Davila has won the city council race, becoming the first candidate to unseat a sitting council member in nearly a quarter century. Davila, a 35 year resident of West Berkeley, has served on the City’s Human Welfare Commission since 2009. -more-

William Marx Mandel -- Presente !

James Vann (with help from Wikipedia)
Thursday November 24, 2016 - 01:16:00 PM

William Marx "Bill" Mandel (born June 4, 1917 in New York City), a former Bay Area broadcast journalist, left-wing political activist and author, best known as a Soviet expert, died this morning, Thanksgiving, at 1:15am. Bill was 99. His books, include “Soviet Women,” and the latest, his autobiography, “Saying No to Power (1999).” -more-

Edith Monk Hallberg
Feburary 7, 1947 - October 30, 2016

Helen Hallberg
Monday November 21, 2016 - 04:17:00 PM
Edith Monk Hallberg <br> Feburary 7, 1947 - October 30, 2016

On the morning of October 30, 2016, Edith Erlene Monk Hallberg passed away peacefully in her apartment at the Redwood Gardens in Berkeley, CA. She was 69 years old. -more-



Что делать? What is to be done?

Becky O'Malley
Friday November 18, 2016 - 12:42:00 PM

Looking through my enormous pile of meaningless unread political mail after election day, I came across a small but thick envelope from Emily’s List. Normally I don’t subscribe to that organization, since over the years it’s backed some truly awful women out of a misguided—I was going to say “feminist patriotism”, but that’s a linguistically foolish construct, so let’s call it—“matriotism”.

In this case however, the envelope contained four small square black-and-white bumper stickers saying “Women can stop Trump.” I’d ordered them on the internet at the Emily’s List site after seeing one on a car, and I really hoped they were true.


Since I never got around to handing them out to my daughters or putting one on my own car, I now have to decide what to do with them. Throw them away? No. They’re a valuable historic artifact which should be passed on to my all-female descendants, as a reminder that we’re all in this soup together, women and men both.

As I promised last week, this week I’ll indulge in some brief ruminations on what went wrong in the presidential race on November 8, and where we go from here.

First, of course, we won. -more-

Public Comment

Human peace sign event dovetails with stopping the homeless merry-go-round

Carol Denney
Friday November 18, 2016 - 01:07:00 PM

I know there will be photos from a drone of the aerial view of the early morning human peace sign in Martin Luther King Civic Center Park today, November 18, 2016, which was a lovely event. I wore tie-dye, I raised my hands in peace signs, I helped make the human peace symbol for the bemused seagulls nearby to see. -more-

Trump must end his flirtation with xenophobia and racism

Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Friday November 18, 2016 - 12:39:00 PM

With each passing day, Congress and the American people get a clearer look into the Trump White House.

People of conscience are horrified by what we’ve seen.

The Justice Department is our nation’s best instrument for protecting our civil rights and voting rights. I am appalled by the decision to nominate Senator Jeff Sessions, a man rejected from serving on the federal bench for his racist comments, as Attorney General. His confirmation would put much of our progress as a nation at grave risk. I strongly urge my colleagues in the Senate to reject his nomination. -more-

On the Berkeley elections: "hello darkness, my old friend"

Thomas Lord
Friday November 18, 2016 - 01:14:00 PM

At the end of the movie "The Graduate", Benjamin stands in the vestibule of the church pounding a single demand on its grand glass entryway: "Elaine!"

As Elaine abandons the altar, her eyes fixed on Ben, she takes her hypnotic walk back down the aisle. We see arrayed around her an older generation's bondage: middle class conformity, consumerism, patriarchy, sex (furtive and transgressive) as a social weapon, a business world distilled to a single word - "plastics".

For a moment, the soundtrack mutes the angry voices of those who came to see her wed. There are only red faces, teeth bared in awful grimaces. We see them shouting but their words are gone. The sound returns only as anger turns to violence when the soldiers of the social order try to snatch back the youths from the brink of terrible freedom.

In one of the most overwrought visual metaphors in cinema -- striking in an otherwise low-key film -- Ben drives back the angry mob by swinging wildly at them with a cross from their own church. As Ben and Elaine flee, they bar the door with that very cross, trapping inside the society they reject.

The pair make their getaway in the back of a public bus -- the closest the 1967 film comes to acknowledging the existence of Black people. As the wistful music swells before the final credits roll we see in their young faces a progression of emotions. The moment settles in and weighs upon them: giddy excitement, laughter, and romance give way first to uncertainty and then -- is that fear? "What next?", we see them think in unison.


Two eras ended in Berkeley last week:

On the political scene, 25 years of rule over City Council by a so-called moderate faction came to a decisive end as moderates lost all but one race they entered. Local wonks are calling it the first progressive sweep of an election in as long as anyone cares to remember. -more-

Israeli Settlements

Jagjit Singh
Friday November 18, 2016 - 01:37:00 PM

Right-wing Israeli politicians eager to capitalize on Trump’s election gave preliminary approval to a bill that would retroactively legalize illegal settlements built in the West Bank. The bill was rushed through the Israeli parliament to forestall the demolition of an illegal outpost by 25 December. -more-

America under trump: a layman's predictions

Jack Bragen
Friday November 18, 2016 - 01:08:00 PM

Donald Trump won the election to the Presidency with promises of "making America great again" in which he seduced voters into believing we could create another post-WWII economy. There are numerous reasons why this isn't realistic, and why any attempt to bring the U.S. back to the late 1940's will have dire consequences for our country and for the world. -more-

The Satanic Friendship Between Government and Business

Harry Brill
Friday November 18, 2016 - 01:18:00 PM

When the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that the most recent official unemployment rate is 4.9 percent, the enthusiasm was widespread. According to a survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal, the majority claimed that we are finally close to full employment. The news that the economy is doing very well has been reported not only by the business journals but uncritically by the go-along mass media as well. Moreover, a high level official of the Federal Reserve Bank believes that the economy is doing too well. He complained that "we may not have enough unemployment". Indeed, many public officials and economists agree because they are worried about inflation. But since their sympathies are with business, it is higher wages more than higher prices that makes them anxious. -more-


New: THE PUBLIC EYE: Was Hillary Cheated?

Bob Burnett
Monday November 21, 2016 - 04:18:00 PM

At this writing, Hillary Clinton has won the 2016 presidential popular vote by 1.7 million votes (1.3 percent). Unfortunately, she lost the Electoral College (232 to 290) because Donald Trump carried the 13 swing states by an aggregate 850,000 votes (1.9 percent). Many Democrats think Hillary was cheated; they believe there were nefarious political tricks that cost her the election. There's not a clear-cut case. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Trump’s First Mistake

Bob Burnett
Friday November 18, 2016 - 02:18:00 PM

Given his electoral-college victory, Donald Trump has amassed short-term political capital. Early indications are that he will fritter it away.

Beginning January 20, 2017, Americans should expect an ultra-conservative government accentuated by Trump's impetuousness and irascibility. We can count on the Trump Administration to overreach. That's why Trump will misuse his political capital. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Berkeley's Violent Raids on Tent Communities Illegal

Ralph E. Stone
Friday November 25, 2016 - 12:12:00 PM

The Berkeley police have conducted raids on homeless camps as members of the homeless community continue to protest the Hub — the city’s homeless services system — for its alleged inefficiency in providing homeless Berkeley citizens with housing and other services. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: “Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War"
Simon & Shuster, 2016, $26.00

Conn Hallinan
Friday November 18, 2016 - 01:41:00 PM

“We have fallen into a self-defeating spiral of reaction and counterterror. Our policies, meant to extirpate our enemies, have strengthened and perpetuated them.”

-Mark Danner

Danner—an award winning journalist, professor and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, who has covered war and revolutions on three continents—begins his book “Spiral” with the aftermath of a 2003 ambush of U.S. troops outside of Fallujah, Iraq. The insurgents had set off a roadside bomb, killing a paratrooper and wounding several others. “The Americans promptly dismounted and with their M-16s and M-4s began pouring lead into everything they could see,” including a passing truck, he writes. “By week’s end scores of family and close friends of those killed would join the insurgents, for honor demanded they kill Americans to wipe away family shame.”

The incident encapsulates the fundamental contradiction at the heart of George W. Bush’s—and with variations, that of Barak Obama’s—“war on terror”: the means used to fight it is the most effective recruiting device that organizations like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Shabab, and the Islamic State have. Targeted assassinations by drones, the use of torture, extra-legal renditions, and the invasions of several Muslim countries has been an unmitigated disaster, destabilizing several states, killing hundreds of thousands of people and generating millions of refugees. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Keeping Paranoia and Fear At Bay

Jack Bragen
Friday November 18, 2016 - 01:00:00 PM

Many persons are traumatized by a lengthy, nasty, and awful election and by its outcome in which we seem to have someone who could end up being a very harsh, nasty and mean leader. Mentally ill people are often more sensitive to fear-provoking stimuli, and this election may have already taken a heavy toll on the mental condition of many. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT:The fall of the democratic party: what happened and what's next?

Ralph E. Stone
Friday November 18, 2016 - 12:57:00 PM

Much has been written about the disaffection of likely Democratic voters in the just-held presidential election. But this disaffection began long ago. Consider that in the middle of the Twentieth Century, the working class, once the core of the Democratic coalition began abandoning the Democratic Party. In 1948, 66% of manual laborers voted for Democrats, as did 60% of farmers. In 1964, it was 55% of working-class voters. By 1980, it was 35%. -more-

Arts & Events

Robert Wilson & Mikhail Baryshnikov Stage Nijinsky’s Diaries

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean with Kathryn Roszak
Friday November 18, 2016 - 02:27:00 PM

When the curtain goes up in Letter to a Man, a collaboration by director Robert Wilson and dancer/actor Mikhail Baryshnikov based on the diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky, a man in white face, Mikhail Baryshnikov, is seated onstage and spotlighted. He speaks in Russian and a male voice is heard speaking ostensibly the same thing in English. Supertitles also give the English version. The words are, “I understand war, because I talk with my mother-in-law.” These words in Russian and English with their English supertitles are repeated again and again, perhaps ten times. Is this a mother-in-law joke or a sign of Nijinsky’s madness? This is only the beginning of a 75-minute hodge-podge of a one-man show put on by Cal Performances purporting to reveal the genius of Vaslav Nijinsky, who was perhaps the greatest dancer as well as one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century, perhaps of all time. It is also the beginning of a show devoted to Nijinsky’s decades-long slide into schizophrenia. Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall hosted this show November 10-13. -more-

Lianna Haroutounian Stars in MADAMA BUTTERFLY

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 18, 2016 - 02:16:00 PM

Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian, who made such a sensational debut here in 2014 as Tosca, returned to San Francisco Opera for ten performances November 6-December 4 as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Haroutounian has been hailed by Opera Today as “one of the major voices of our time,” and her interpretations of Puccini’s soprano roles are already considered benchmarks. Haroutounian’s Cio-Cio-San at the November 15 performance I attended was incandescent, both vocally and dramatically. Haroutounian sings with perfect pitch, precise diction, an exquisite sense of dynamics, and luscious lyricism. Her soprano voice is voluptuous in the lower register and scintillating in the upper register, with no break whatsoever between the chest tones and head tones. Dramatically, she portrays both the delicacy and vulnerability of her Butterfly character and the power and pathos of Butterfly’s love for the American sailor Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton. This interpretation, with its acknowledgment of vulnerabilty, sets Haroutounian’s Cio-Cio-San somewhat apart from the Patricia Racette version of this role that has reigned here from 2006 to the present, for Racette, who sang beautifully, emphasized the steely and unyielding quality of Cio-Cio-San from beginning to end, whereas Haroutounian traces the changing trajectory of her character from vulnerability in Act I to steely albeit desperate resolve in Act II. -more-

National Bird: America's Symbol Is No Longer the Eagle

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Friday November 18, 2016 - 01:22:00 PM

Opens at SF's Roxie Theater on November 18

National Bird, executive produced by Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) and Errol Morris (The Fog of War), is a slow, chilling excursion through the haunted lives of three US drone vets—two women, one young man. Director Sonia Kennebeck's presentation intentionally lacks razzle-dazzle and focuses, instead, on grim silences and intense, quiet monologs.

The film begins simply with a grainy black-and-white aerial video and a woman's voice. We watch as a man on the ground casually walks down a street in his Afghan neighborhood.

"We hover and watch for days," the voice recalls. "Sometimes we get intel that he's a 'bad guy' and we blow him up. Just drop a Hellfire missile on him."

The figure on the screen stops walking. He appears to sit down to rest. In the next second, he's gone—replaced by a volcano of smoke and dust and chared body parts scattered on the ground.

You've just seen the "tip of the spear" in Washington's so-called "War on Terror."

Cost to US taxpayer for this cowardly act of automated assassination? One $47,000 Lockheed/Martin/Raytheon Hellfire missile.

The cost of "counterterrorism" is neither cheap nor effective—drone attacks actually serve to "recruit" new enemies—but, if you're a "defense" contractor, it's damned profitable.