My letter to Trump

Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Wednesday August 16, 2017 - 10:35:00 AM

We cannot address the dangerous spread of white supremacy in America without first assessing its influence on our nation's highest office.

Yesterday afternoon, Donald Trump defended the white supremacists who descended upon Charlottesville this past weekend while insisting there was blame "on both sides." As disturbing as his comments are, they should come as no surprise.

As long as Trump has senior advisors with ties to white nationalist groups, he will never fully condemn racism and bigotry. That's why I wrote a letter to Trump yesterday calling for the removal of three prominent White House aides who are involved with the alt-right: Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka. -more-

A Word About the Planned White Nationalist Rally August 27

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin
Wednesday August 16, 2017 - 10:09:00 AM

The City of Berkeley has received many emails and calls about the impending August 27 white nationalist rally at Civic Center Park. We want to reiterate that the city has not approved this gathering. It is an event organized online. No one has tried to obtain a permit nor has one been granted.

This rally, and its hateful rhetoric, is not welcome in Berkeley. We are currently exploring all options. The city will keep residents informed as the date approaches.

I also want to be clear that anyone who threatens to engage in violence -- and we have seen from earlier events that this is exactly their intent -- will be arrested and punished to the fullest extent of the law. We urge residents to avoid the Martin Luther King Jr Civic Center Park on this day. The best way to silence the white nationalists is by turning your back on their message. (Stay tuned for updates from us about how to positively send a message that the hate will not be tolerated.)

I think residents understand the extremely difficult position Berkeley finds itself in, made even more so by dealing with an amorphous group with no specific organizers. I want to reiterate that we will not allow our community to be terrorized by a small band of white supremacists whose ideology of hate is a losing one. Berkeley is proud of its multiculturalism and diversity, and we will continue to stand united against those who want to divide us. -more-

Top Dog cook resigns when spotted in Charlottesville

Keith Burbank (BCN) and Planet
Monday August 14, 2017 - 05:07:00 PM

A Berkeley restaurant employee who allegedly attended a white nationalist rally Friday in Charlottesville, Virginia, resigned from the restaurant Saturday, restaurant officials said today. -more-

Main entrance to Berkeley BART closed

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Monday August 14, 2017 - 05:05:00 PM

A The main entrance to the downtown Berkeley BART station will close today as part of a plaza improvement project, BART officials said. -more-

A Well-Attended Anti-Nationalist Rally

Harry Brill
Monday August 14, 2017 - 10:55:00 AM

Sunday evening (August 13) a few hundred mainly Berkeley residents marched to and gathered at the Martin Luther King Civic Center Park to protest the recent racist and anti-Semitic conduct of white nationalists in Charlottesville this weekend. Moreover, Donald Trump refused to condemn the violence perpetrated by these neo-fascists. The protest rally, which was one of several hundred nationwide held on Sunday, was organized by Berkeley Indivisible, which is part of a national movement to resist the agenda of the current administration and to support progressive alternatives. -more-

Page One

Preventing displacement in Berkeley: the social housing strategy (News Analysis)

Thomas Lord
Friday August 11, 2017 - 10:33:00 AM

Most of the people who live in Berkeley are at risk for displacement. The market prices of housing in Berkeley are affordable only to households with incomes over $100,000. The median household income in Berkeley is much less than that.

In 2015, that median income was only around $66,000. Anyone who must leave their current residence in Berkeley is statistically likely to have difficulty finding an affordable replacement in Berkeley

Each year -- year after year -- the number of Berkeley households making less than $100,000 falls by the hundreds. Each year the number making more than $100,000 grows even faster than that. (See the attached graph.)

Berkeley is Gentrification City

Between 2000 and 2015, Berkeley added over 7,000 households with incomes over $100,000.[1] Most of that increase happened just between 2005 - 2015. During that same period, Berkeley lost over 6,000 households where the people had incomes under $100,000.

Some of those changes in household income might be explained by households that had incomes below $100,000 in 2000, but who by 2015 had seen their incomes increase to over $100,000. Still, it is unlikely that explains very much of this overall change.

Each year, on average, many hundreds of very high income households move into Berkeley. And many households with lower incomes wind up leaving.

Berkeley is becoming gentrified at a very rapid pace. -more-

Berkeley police investigate robbery at Ashby BART

Dennis Culver (BCN)
Saturday August 12, 2017 - 10:50:00 AM

BART police are investigating a robbery that occurred Thursday at the Ashby Station in Berkeley. -more-

Public Comment

What should Berkeley do about the proposed alt-right rally on August 27?

Jacquelyn McCormick
Sunday August 13, 2017 - 11:55:00 AM

As a community we need to decide what we want our values really mean and under what circumstances.

We don't want to militarize our police, stop and frisk and profiling is unacceptable, and we have "use of force" monitors at previous protest to, rightfully, ensure there is no repeat of Black Lives Matter events. These are Berkeley values we all embrace.

Now we want to stop people coming into Our City, profile and frisk them, because look like Nazis and do not support our values. (Which is true and frightening). And, if we are truthful, we would be happy if they were all run out of town or thrown in the slammer for aggressive behavior.

I would like to hear some dialog around this. It is important to hear from the community about these conflicting approaches. Peace and Justice/Indivisible PLEASE chime in!!! It is so important to the approach that will be taken. -more-

Enemies of the Planet

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday August 11, 2017 - 11:25:00 AM

The ominous signs of global warming are becoming more and more self-evident. Here in the United States, temperatures have risen sharply. According to the recent climate report from 13 federal agencies, the warmest climate has been experienced in recent decades, the hottest during the past 1,500 years. Record temperatures have also been experienced in Europe, Australia, the Middle East and India. The august body, The National Academy of Sciences, has signed off on the draft report which should give it enormous credibility.

If no remedial action is taken, temperatures are expected to rise 2 degrees centigrade by the end of the century. This would cause blistering heat waves, rainstorms, flooding and accelerate the obliteration of coral reefs. Greenland and the arctic ice are melting at an alarming rate a causing dramatic rise of sea levels.

The deadline for approval of the report is August 18. It is probable that Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, a climate change denier, may bury the report.

This must not be allowed to happen. I urge readers to call your representatives and demand the report be released to the general public. Light up the White House comment line and demand remedial action to combat the scourge of climate change. Silence is not an option. Your children and all future generations’ lives are at stake. If no action is taken, climate change will become the longest suicide ever attempted by the human race and we have a very good chance of success. -more-


Whatever became of Berkeley's neighborhood-serving retail?

Becky O'Malley
Friday August 11, 2017 - 03:36:00 PM

Having lived in university towns for all of my adult life, I am very conscious of the difference in atmosphere when most of the students go home for summer vacation. One obvious benefit is that parking becomes infinitely easier. Yes, yes, I know that we’re not supposed to be driving, even those of us who are over 75 and a bit arthritic. Yes, I know that students never drive any more—well,hardly ever. It must be just a coincidence that many, many cars disappear from Berkeley streets in the summer—surely it’s not because the students are gone.

In the time I’ve been in Berkeley, off and on since 1958, most of the full-time residents have gotten out of the habit of shopping here, so the lack of parking is not much of a problem. There was a time, maybe in the ‘80s or ‘90s, when women of a certain age bemoaned the absence of anywhere to buy underwear in downtown Berkeley, but now they have surely figured out Amazon, or in a true emergency Target in Oakland. On the other hand, if they should need a tattoo or phony fingernails, Berkeley’s their place.

Am I the only person to notice the enormous number of commercial vacancies in what used to be neighborhood shopping streets? When I first lived in the Elmwood neighborhood, College Avenue boasted a real hardware store, at least two general bookstores, a “dry goods” store which sold both baby clothes and the now-lamented underwear selection, two “drug stores” and a “dime store” with one of almost anything you wanted. Now there are several Tibetan curio establishments and other gifte shoppes, lots and lots of restaurants, plus laptop study-hall cafes galore, but not a lot more. In particular, the two anchor corners at Ashby, north-west and south-east, stand vacant.

Neighborhood commercial districts like Elmwood are given high marks for supposed walkability, especially if they still also boast a bus route like the 51. But if there’s nowhere to buy laundry detergent or screwdrivers or toilet paper, neighborhood residents, especially those getting provisions for multi-person households, will inevitably be driving or ordering online. -more-


New: ECLECTIC RANT:The United States versus North Korea

Ralph E. Stone
Monday August 14, 2017 - 10:58:00 AM

The U.S. continues to view North Korea’s rulers as cartoonish madmen. Kim Jong-un, North Korea's ruler, probably isn’t crazy. Like his grandfather and father before him, Kim has generally behaved in a predictable and rational way for the ruler of a small, poor country trying to preserve his own grip on power in the face of bigger and more powerful rivals.

Anyway, it is not advisable to belittle a man with his finger on a nuclear weapon. I find little comfort that Trump has his finger on our nuclear button. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:6 Months of Trump, 6 Lessons Learned

Bob Burnett
Friday August 11, 2017 - 11:21:00 AM

After six months of the Donald Trump presidency, we know what to expect going forward. We've learned six lessons. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Russiagate in a nutshell

Ralph E. Stone
Friday August 11, 2017 - 11:27:00 AM

Now it seems clear that Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system in the summer and fall before the 2016 presidential election was widespread and included attacks into voter databases and software systems in at least thirty-nine states. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Difficult Realities and Paranoid Reactions

Jack Bragen
Friday August 11, 2017 - 11:14:00 AM

I've had to scrap a previous version of the column for this week, because I realized in the nick of time that it would get people paranoid and/or upset. I was affected by my paranoid symptoms, and had written the piece accordingly. -more-

Arts & Events

Around & About--Dance & Music: Mary Sano & Her Duncan Dancers with Eriko Tokaji on Piano

Ken Bullock
Saturday August 12, 2017 - 06:54:00 PM

I've written about Mary Sano before, her exquisite dancing and choreography, the important work she's doing here and in Japan to revive Isadora Duncan's legacy, here at her studio, an occasional home for all kinds of performing artists, just blocks away from where Isadora was born in the late 1870s. -more-

West Edge Opera at Pacific Pipe: A New Venue & New Operas

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday August 13, 2017 - 06:45:00 PM

After several successful seasons at Oakland’s abandoned train station, West Edge Opera was told by Oakland city officials that in the wake of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire, for safety reasons the city could no longer permit public performances at the abandoned train station. So West Edge Opera’s General Director Mark Streshinsky set out in search of another suitable (and cheap) venue where his company could stage their 2017 Festival. What Streshinsky came up with was Pacific Pipe, a former West Oakland warehouse for a steel refurbishing factory. In this vast former industrial space, West Edge Opera is currently presenting three new operas, all rarely seen anywhere. On Sunday, August 6, I attended L’arbore di Diana/The Chastity Tree by Vicente Martin y Soler. A Spanish composer who worked in Vienna as a contemporary of Mozart, Martin y Soler shared with Mozart the services of renowned librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, who wrote the libretto for The Chastity Tree. Later in life, da Ponte considered L’arbore di Diana the best opera libretto he had written, noting that “it was voluptuous without overstepping into lasciviousness.” -more-

Sarah Chang and Asian Youth Orchestra at Zellerbach

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday August 13, 2017 - 06:53:00 PM

On Saturday, August 5, Cal Performances presented violinist Sarah Chang with the Asian Youth Orchestra at Zellerbach Hall in a program of music by Richard Strauss, Jean Sibelius, and Ludwig van Beethoven. With the Asian Youth Orchestra’s founder, Richard Pontzious, conducting, the evening began with the Tone Poem Don Juan by Richard Strauss. An early work by Strauss, Don Juan took up the same womanizing character made famous by Mozart’s great opera Don Giovanni. However, Richard Strauss altered the Don’s character by making his Don Juan seek the ideal woman who would be, as it were, all women in one. Because he can never find his ideal woman, Don Juan suffers from disgust and disillusionment at his predicament, and, as Strauss wrote, “This Disgust is the Devil that fetches him.” -more-