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At Least Three Arrested During Shapiro Event at UC Berkeley

DanielMontes/ScottMorris (BCN)
Thursday September 14, 2017 - 11:02:00 PM

At least three people have been arrested in Berkeley this evening as hundreds of people gathered at the University of California at Berkeley for an event in which conservative host Ben Shapiro was set to speak, police said.  

Police have identified two of the arrestees as Sarah Roark, 44, of San Francisco and Hannah Benjamin, 20, of Fremont.  

Roark was arrested on suspicion of carrying a banned weapon and Benjamin was arrested on suspicion of battery on a police officer and carrying a banned weapon, according to police.  

Shapiro was scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse in an event titled "Say No to Campus Thuggery." The event is being put on by the Berkeley College Republicans and Young America's Foundation.  

About 200 people gathered near Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue ahead of the event, many of them to protest Shapiro's appearance.  

Bancroft Way between Bowditch and Ellsworth streets has been closed to vehicular traffic, police said.

Listen to this: Thanks But No Thanks

Audio by Carol Denney
Thursday September 14, 2017 - 10:29:00 AM

Press Release: Advisory: Road Closure in South Campus

Berkeley Police Department
Thursday September 14, 2017 - 10:28:00 AM

The University of California Berkeley will be hosting an event Tonight, September 14th, from 7:00-9:00pm, at Zellerbach Hall which has the potential to draw protestors and counter protestors. In anticipation of the event, the City has closed Bancroft Way between Bowditch and Ellsworth Streets to vehicle traffic. Those parked inside the affected area will be allowed to drive out but will not be allowed to drive back in until after 3:00am on September 15th. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and only take these actions in the interest of public safety.

For the latest departmental information or for breaking City of Berkeley Police news, follow our Public Information Team on Twitter @berkeleypolice

Berkeley Campus Police Prepare for Shapiro

Dave Brooksher (BCN)
Wednesday September 13, 2017 - 01:35:00 PM

Campus police at the University of California, Berkeley, are asking students, staff and faculty to avoid the area of a speaking engagement with former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro scheduled for Thursday evening. 

Shapiro is expected to address his supporters in Zellerbach Hall from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in an event titled "Say No to Campus Thuggery." Tickets are sold out. 

Police anticipate the presence of protesters, so they're establishing a "security area" Thursday morning with a limited number of access points where ticket holders will be able to enter Zellerbach Hall starting at 5:30 p.m. 

They expect the area around Bancroft and Telegraph avenues to be heavily impacted, and they're encouraging people to use alternate routes and expect delays. 

They've released a map of the campus highlighting alternative pathways to consider for getting around on campus, and walking escorts are available through the BearWALK program starting at 6 p.m. 

Berkeley has become a target for far-right activists identifying themselves as free speech advocates after violence outside an event by conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos earlier this year and the subsequent cancellation of an event with conservative author Ann Coulter. 

The incidents, some of which have been dubbed the Battles of Berkeley, drew hundreds of protestors and counter-protestors. The most recent event at Provo Park on Aug. 27 turned violent after Antifa members, or anti-fascists, and other counter-protestors swarmed over a barricade set up by police, confronting and occasionally assaulting the event's organizers.

UC Berkeley Administrators Ask Court to End Brutality Suit

Julia Cheever (BCN)
Wednesday September 13, 2017 - 03:36:00 PM

Lawyers for protesters and attorneys for University of California at Berkeley administrators argued before a federal appeals court in San Francisco today on whether the protesters can sue over alleged police brutality in a 2011 campus confrontation. 

The administrators are asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling in which U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said last year the protesters' lawsuit could proceed. 

The demonstration by hundreds of students and non-students took place on the Berkeley campus on the afternoon and evening of Nov. 9, 2011, at the time of the Occupy movement in dozens of cities around the nation. 

As the day wore on, some protesters began erecting small tents, which campus police moved in to take down. 

Twenty-one protesters claim in a civil rights lawsuit filed in 2011 that campus police used unconstitutional excessive force by allegedly assaulting them with batons. The administrators maintain the protesters refused orders to disperse and "actively resisted" police efforts to reach the encampment. 

The defendants in the case are former Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, four other present and former administrators, former campus police Chief Mitchell Celaya and two other police officials. 

Birgeneau was in Japan at the time but, according to preliminary evidence in the case, kept in touch with the other top administrators by email and instructed that the police should "take down all tents immediately" but should not use tear gas or pepper spray. 

The campus officials said they established a publicly announced no-encampment rule because they feared a repeat of a previous protest in which tree-sitters opposing an athletic center expansion remained encamped in the trees for 19 months. 

The administrators contend they should be protected from the lawsuit under the doctrine of qualified immunity. Under that doctrine, set by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982, government employees can't be sued for conduct while on the job unless they violated a "clearly established" right. 

Daniel Sharp, an attorney for the university, told a three-judge panel, "There's no duty on the part of administrators to allow mob rule on the campus."  

Shanta Driver, representing the protesters, argued that although the administrators had left the campus by evening, they should be held responsible for not taking action to stop the alleged violence. 

"They want to make sure they are not present when some of the brutality took place," Driver told the court. 

At least one judge on the panel, Circuit Judge Paul Watford, seemed to favor allowing the lawsuit to proceed. 

Watford cited a sworn statement that a protester was hit on the head, and said that under court precedents as of 2011, "It was clear that you can't use potentially deadly force. 

"Getting clocked in the head is potentially deadly force," he said. 

The panel took the case under submission and did not indicate when it will issue a written opinion. 

If the panel allows the lawsuit to go proceed, a jury in Gonzalez Rogers' court would then determine at a trial whether the police in fact used excessive force.

Press Release: Rules Imposed For Select Berkeley City Parks, Streets On Sept. 14

from Matthai Chakko, Public Information, City of Berkeley
Wednesday September 13, 2017 - 12:05:00 PM

Designed to allow peaceful expression of free speech

To ensure the peaceful expression of free speech, the City of Berkeley will temporarily prohibit sticks, pipes, poles and anything else that can be used for a "riot" on Thursday September 14 at three city parks.

In addition, there will also be temporary rules prohibiting various weapons on streets and sidewalks within a defined area.

Anyone violating these rules will be subject to citation and arrest.

These rules are intended to assist those wishing to peaceably express their First Amendment Rights. Thursday's event at UC Berkeley comes in the wake of a February 1, 2017 campus event that drew numerous protesters, as well as dozens of masked extremists who started fires, destroyed property, and engaged in violent confrontations with other protesters and spread into the City streets. 

At subsequent rallies and demonstrations in Civic Center Park on March 4 and April 15, assemblies turned violent, fights broke out, and numerous people were seriously injured. Arrests were made for offenses that included battery and assault with a deadly weapon. Numerous extremists wore masks or otherwise covered their faces so as to attempt to evade identification while attempting to or committing crimes and engaging in violence. 

On August 27, 2017, coordinated groups of individuals used Ohlone Park as a meeting place to stage weapons, shields, and other implements of riot, and to practice fighting maneuvers and tactics. These individuals donned masks and collectively marched with their weapons and shields to Civic Center Park, accompanied by a flatbed truck that carried additional implements of riot. Given that many individuals brought items that were used as weapons into Civic Center Park on March 4, April 15 and August 27, the following items are prohibited from being brought into Civic Center Park, Ohlone Park and Willard Park by any person on September 14, 2017: 


  • Metal pipes
  • Lengths of lumber or wood (any size)
  • Wooden dowels
  • Poles or staffs
  • Baseball bats or sticks modified for use as a weapon
  • Glass bottles or metal cans modified for use as a weapon
  • Bricks
  • Rocks
  • Pepper or bear spray (OC spray)
  • Mace
  • Knives or daggers
  • Firearms
  • Shields
  • Axes, axe handles, or hatchets
  • Ice picks
  • Razor blades
  • Tasers
  • Improvised explosive devices (IEDs)
  • Spray cans
  • Fire works
  • Smoke canisters
  • Dynamite
  • Heavy-gauge chain
  • Torches, lanterns or other devices that use fire or fuel
  • Slingshots
  • Any other item that is generally considered an "implement of riot" that can be used as a weapon
Additionally, in Civic Center Park, Willard Park and Ohlone Park on Thursday, September 14, signs and flags must be held by hand, and may not be affixed to any pole or stick. Wearing of a mask, scarf, bandana or any other accessory or item that covers or partially covers the face and shields the wearer's face from view, or partially from view, is prohibited in Civic Center Park, Willard Park and Ohlone Park on September 14, except for coverings worn due to religious beliefs, practices or observances. 


On September 14, the City is also issuing temporary regulations to restrict certain items, including bricks, rocks, axes, mace, knives, firearms, dynamite, and torches in a defined area of the City. This area is bounded by the following roads: Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd to the west; Piedmont Avenue, Gayley Road, La Loma Avenue and LeConte Avenue to the east: Dwight Way to the south, and Cedar Street to the north: 

Copies of the two Administrative Rules for September 14, can be found at: 


For peaceful protesters, there are a number of things people can do to stay safe. Separate yourself from people committing violence. Doing so not only keeps you safe, it prevents criminal acts from being done under the cover of a peaceful crowd. That allows police to focus on criminal acts. 


The City will work to safeguard our community while facilitating the peaceful expression of the First Amendment. If anyone commits a crime in our community, we will work with the community to identify, investigate and prosecute suspects. That applies both during and after the event. 

Press Release: Campus statement on announced plans for visits by Yiannopoulos, Bannon

By Public Affairs, UC Berkeley
Tuesday September 12, 2017 - 11:28:00 PM

Today, Milo Yiannopoulos and Stephen Bannon made public statements about their plans to speak on the UC Berkeley campus as part of a series of events tentatively planned for Sept. 24-27. None of these events have been confirmed, and many planning details remain unresolved. The university has issued the following statement in response to media inquiries:


The university is committed to working with registered student organizations to host speakers on campus. Student groups planning such events must meet requirements outlined in our events policy in order for the events to proceed.

Proposed speakers

The series of events proposed for Sept. 24-27 is being planned by a student group called the Berkeley Patriot. Milo Yiannopoulos and Stephen Bannon have said publicly that they will be speaking on our campus during that time, along with “more than 20 additional speakers,” as per Mr. Yiannopoulos’s statement. However, the university cannot yet confirm exactly when or if they will be here, nor can it confirm a list of speakers. 

We have repeatedly asked representatives of the Berkeley Patriot to confirm that contracts have been completed between the student organization and each of these speakers; to date they have not. In addition, the tentative information the student group has shared with us about the scheduling of the proposed speakers conflicts with information that has been shared publicly by Mr. Yiannopoulos. 

Security requirements 

We must also note that some of the proposed events are being planned for indoor venues that have specific security and procedural requirements. We have asked the student group to meet those requirements and have informed them in writing that critical deadlines are fast approaching. Simply put, the university cannot provide the security and support the student organization has requested, and the campus wants to provide, if we do not receive the essential information. To date a number of key deadlines have been missed. Only one speaker’s representative has connected with the campus or our police department to discuss security arrangements, as is required. Rental fees for venues have not been paid. Contracts with venues have not been signed. 

While campus officials and venue managers are working diligently to assist the Berkeley Patriot group with its proposed events, the group’s failure to meet important deadlines is making it increasingly difficult to ensure a safe and secure program. 

Flash: Berkeley City Council Approves Limited Use of Pepper Spray

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN) and Planet
Tuesday September 12, 2017 - 10:51:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council voted 6-3 at a special meeting today to allow the city's police officers to use pepper spray in a targeted way against specific individuals in potentially violent situations during the types of massive protests the city has had several times this year.

Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood asked for the modification of the city's 1997 rule against the use of pepper spray during demonstrations in advance of a speech by conservative talk show host Ben Shapiro at the University of California at Berkeley on Thursday night, which is expected to spark the type of clashes that have occurred at previous talks or rallies by conservative groups.

Just as the meeting started at 3 p.m. Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin introduced a resolution drawn much more narrowly than the one Chief Greenwood had initially requested.

He said the modification of the city's existing pepper spray policy won't permit police officers to use pepper spray indiscriminately but instead will allow them to use it against specific violent offenders in crowd situations. 

Arreguin said he's concerned about the type of violence carried out by a small group of self-identified anti-fascist activists, also know as Antifa, which marred an otherwise-peaceful protest against right-wing extremists in Berkeley on Aug. 27. 

He said, "Violence has no place in our democracy" and officers should be able to use pepper spray to protect themselves or others. 

Arreguin said, "Our police officers are human beings who are there to protect our safety. We have to protect them just as we protect free speech." 

Most of the dozens of speakers who addressed the council at its meeting, which drew an overflow audience, opposed the change in the city's pepper spray policy as it had been originally proposed, and some opposed any use of pepper spray in any context. 

Andrea Pritchett of Berkeley Copwatch said she fears that if officers are allowed to use pepper spray they will later expand to using more violent methods of trying to control crowds.  

"Once the pepper spray starts, what comes next?" Pritchett asked. 

City Councilmember Kate Harrison, who cast one of the three votes against the policy change, said she also thinks that allowing officers to use pepper spray will escalate tensions during protests, not de-escalate them. 

Harrison told Greenwood, "You're asking for bigger weapons," saying that the change would allow police officers to switch from the small single use aerosol they now carry for use on violent individuals to larger cannisters which could be used on violent people in crowds. 

She described the quick move to change the policy as "a rush to justice." 

Harrison said the change won't work, is poorly considered, risks harm to innocent bystanders and isn't needed. 

Councilmember Cheryl Davila, who also voted against the change, said, "I don't quite understand why this is necessary." 

Davila said, "We're continuing the fear ideology of the Trump administration and the Bush administration." 

Before the vote was taken, she said, "Peace is the answer. Have love in your heart." 

Councilmember Kriss Worthington cast the other vote against the policy change but made no statement. 

Voting in favor, in addition to Arreguin, were Councilmembers Maio, Bartlett, Wengraf, Droste and Hahn. 

Greenwood said he thinks the pepper spray policy needs to be modified because, "There are armed groups that are armed and willing to use violence." 

He said in a memo to the council before the meeting that "[c]onfronting a large, well-coordinated armed group is challenging for law enforcement in any context." 

Greenwood said a pepper spray aerosol dispenser allows officers to employ a direct, limited application of force to repel specific attackers. 

He contrasted it with tear gas canisters, which he said "release a cloud of chemical irritant into a larger area and the cloud can affect peaceful demonstrators, observers or uninvolved parties." 

Greenwood added, "The use of batons to repel direct attacks on officers carries an inherent risk of injury to both suspects and officers."

Press Release: Berkeley Council Considers Use of Pepper Spray Against Violent Agitators

from Stefan Elgstrand, asst. to the Mayor
Tuesday September 12, 2017 - 01:56:00 PM

(Berkeley, CA) –Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin will be introducing an amendment to an item regarding the use of pepper spray by the Berkeley Police Department as such use relates to crowd control, and expression of First Amendment speech. This amendment comes in a response to address community concerns over the potential misuse of pepper spray, and in consultation of the Police Chief and the City Attorney.

Mayor Arreguin supports the Berkeley Police Department’s request to use pepper spray as a tool to deter violence against police and other individuals, and also supports continuing City policy of not using it as a form of crowd control. 

Full language of the motion: 

Oleoresin Capsicum (pepper spray) shall not be used as a crowd control technique to disperse a crowd or move a crowd. 

Pepper spray shall not be used on persons engaged in legal speech or other expression that is protected by the First Amendment, nor upon those committing unlawful acts by non-violent or passive resistance means, (e.g. sitting or lying down to block a street or doorway). 

Police may use pepper spray upon specific individuals within a crowd who are committing acts of violence upon police or others. 

The Berkeley City Council will vote on the proposal today (Tuesday, September 12) at 3pm at Old City Hall, 2134 MLK Jr Way.

Updated: ON MENTAL ILLNESS: AB 1250 a Disaster

Jack Bragen
Sunday September 10, 2017 - 08:01:00 PM

AB 1250 is close to being passed by the California Legislature. It is a union backed bill that would put extreme restrictions on social service agencies that receive funding from county governments. In order to obtain a contract, agencies must demonstrate that no county jobs would be eliminated, and that there would be a savings to government as a result of the contract.  

This proposed law would adversely affect mental health services in California. My take on it is that persons in need of psychiatric treatment could be forced into the county systems, where before they had choices of going to nonprofit and/or private agencies for mental health care. It could gut all of the social service systems in California, including but not limited to those that provide mental health treatment.  

NAMI recently sent out a bulletin to its members urging us to contact our State Assembly and State Senate, to voice opposition to this bill. This is what prompted me to write this piece.  

The bill has been amended about six times since its initial introduction.  

This bill is for the purpose of maintaining jobs for county workers, and it does nothing whatsoever to help conditions for those in a position of receiving government funded services.  

It is about time that government prioritizes the well-being of vulnerable people, rather than prioritizing the incomes of salaried employees.

Weapons Are Not the Answer (Public Comment)

Carol Denney
Saturday September 09, 2017 - 11:31:00 AM

Re: Special meeting to loosen pepper spray restrictions 3:00 pm, Tuesday, September 12, Old City Hall Council Chambers.

I share our community's frustration over those organized to stop others from speaking, and the confounding position it puts us in when hate groups come to town. But weapons, in this case loosening the restrictions for the use of pepper spray, are not the answer.

Pepper spray was once marketed as "non-lethal" and "effective" by manufacturers who now acknowledge it is only occasionally effective in disabling an unpredictable ratio of suspects in highly constrained circumstances; San Francisco Police Chief Toney Chaplin stated at a hearing in 2016, “What option does an officer have in a small room, when you cannot use a baton and you cannot use pepper spray because you’ll spray yourself?”

The obvious happened over the years; the lack of regulation of indiscriminate pepper spray products and their unpredictable rate of efficacy encouraged manufacturers to produce more concentrated products in combination with additional chemicals with little study about physiological effects of these combinations despite pepper spray's implication in dozens of deaths in California; 

"A new report[1] from The International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) and Physicians for Human Rights, "Lethal in Disguise: The Health Consequences of Crowd-Control Weapons," found that more potent formulations of pepper spray are increasingly the weapon of choice by police. They also report that OC preparations may also include other toxic chemicals, such as alcohol, halogenated hydrocarbons, or propellants. Such combinations make it more difficult to treat exposures. In fact, a 2004 paper from Duke and University of North Carolina cautioned about the other chemicals often used with OC, noting, “Inhalation of high doses of some of these chemicals can produce adverse cardiac, respiratory and neurologic effects, including arrhythmias and sudden death.” 

Police departments will never stop pressuring for more weaponry, and there's rarely a political upside to turning them down. But there's no substitute for more community clarity about our shared goals, including free speech and public safety. We have yet to have a community forum on the best way to approach what may be a endless stream of provocative speakers coming to town to test our resolve to allow all points of view. 

Note that the police request continually refers to the probable targets of this new policy as "violent extremists", which begs the question; if individuals have committed acts of violence they are already subject to arrest, raising the concern that people in similar attire might be pepper-sprayed for merely being nearby or in similar attire. 

Please recommend this police request be taken under consideration by the relevant commissions before allowing indiscriminate chemical irritants more acceptance. 

[1] From "Pharma and Healthcare", by Judy Stone, Mar 16, 2016. 

Celebrate Peace and Justice on Thursday Night and Boycott Breitbart

George Lippman, Vice-Chair, Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission
Saturday September 09, 2017 - 11:46:00 AM

The Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission celebrates three decades of fighting the good fight for peace and social justice. You could say we put the “People’s” in People’s Republic of Berkeley.

WHEN: Thursday, September 14, 6:30pm to 9:30 pm

WHERE: North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst at Martin Luther King

We hope you’ll join us on Thursday. We’ll use the occasion to look at the state of human rights in Berkeley and beyond. We will commemorate the generations of movements that we have supported and learned from. But our main focus is to look ahead. We’ll discuss the importance of having a peace and justice commission in the 21st century, and how we can together transform the city and its government to put human rights first.

Also: we understand that former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro will be speaking on campus the same day. We urge everyone who wants to participate in the development of a positive, future-oriented vision, rather than Shapiro’s return to the 50s—or the Middle Ages—come join to the Peace and Justice event instead. It will be a lot more constructive and much more fun. 

We are proud of our expansive mandate to act on all issues of social justice. We will highlight the commissions’ accomplishments and challenges the city faces in areas such as: 

* Racial justice 

* Women’s and girls’ rights 

* Nuclear weaponry 

* Socially responsible investing, banking, and procurement 

* Militarization and peace 

* Public education 

* Indigenous rights in Berkeley 

* International solidarity and the Pacific Rim 

* National security state and police accountability 

A social justice spoken word piece by youth from Youth Spirit Artworks will be performed. 

Berkeley leaders have been invited to commit themselves to the social justice mandate of the Commission, and to present their own visions of how the city can realize its 1990 declaration as a Human Rights City. 


At Least Three Arrested During Shapiro Event at UC Berkeley

DanielMontes/ScottMorris (BCN)
Thursday September 14, 2017 - 11:02:00 PM

AT At least three people have been arrested in Berkeley this evening as hundreds of people gathered at the University of California at Berkeley for an event in which conservative host Ben Shapiro was set to speak, police said. Police have identified two of the arrestees as Sarah Roark, 44, of San Francisco and Hannah Benjamin, 20, of Fremont. Roark was arrested on suspicion of carrying a banned weapon and Benjamin was arrested on suspicion of battery on a police officer and carrying a banned weapon, according to police. Shapiro was scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse in an event titled "Say No to Campus Thuggery." The event is being put on by the Berkeley College Republicans and Young America's Foundation. About 200 people gathered near Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue ahead of the event, many of them to protest Shapiro's appearance. Bancroft Way between Bowditch and Ellsworth streets has been closed to vehicular traffic, police said.

Urban Shield Protest in Oakland Today

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday September 08, 2017 - 01:48:00 PM

The Stop Urban Shield Coalition will hold a rally in front of the Alameda County government building near Lake Merritt in Oakland at 4 p.m. today to protest the "Urban Shield" law enforcement disaster training event that's being hosted by the county sheriff's office this weekend. 

Sheriff's officials say the purpose of the conference, which is being held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, is to train law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics on how to respond to natural disasters as well as man-made disasters such as explosions and mass shootings. 

Urban Shield was launched several years after the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, which sheriff's officials said showed that law enforcement agencies weren't well prepared for such attacks. 

More than 100 agencies and thousands of people, including some from foreign countries, have participated in past conferences. 

Sheriff's officials weren't immediately available for comment on the details of this year's conference, which began on Thursday and will continue through Monday. 

Members of the Stop Urban Shield Coalition allege that the conference increases the militarization of law enforcement officers. 

Mohamed Shekh of Critical Resistance, one of the groups that will be participating in the rally in Oakland today, said this year's conference "comes on the heels of President Trump announcing that he will be lifting restrictions on the transfer of military equipment to police departments." 

Sharif Zakout of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center said in a statement, "Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern's Urban Shield fits neatly in line with Trump's greenlighting of military weapons going to police departments and his attack on immigrants." 

Zakout said, "As Trump is seeking more deportations and increased police militarization federally, Ahern is doing so locally by collaborating with ICE and hosting Urban Shield. They both are waging war on communities of color." 

After the rally Stop Urban Shield organizers are also planning to hold a resource fair at the nearby Lake Merritt Amphitheater that's aimed at providing workshops, aid kits, and information on how communities themselves can respond to emergency situations without militarized law enforcement. 

In January the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to continue supporting the Urban Shield training exercise even though many board members said they share some of the concerns expressed by the Stop Urban Shield Coalition. 

Board members said they believe Sheriff Ahern has put in adequate safeguards to make sure that the training program bans racial profiling, excludes vendors who display derogatory or racist messages and excludes the sale or transfer of assault weapons and firearms. 

As part of its vote, the board included an amendment to form an 18-member panel of community members, health officials and educational officials that will address the community's concerns about Urban Shield. 




Let's Stop Acting Out Those Chicken Little Fantasies in Berkeley

Becky O'Malley
Friday September 08, 2017 - 01:18:00 PM

So, there’s yet another right-wing twerp coming to Berkeley next week. Maybe. Unless he chickens out, like more than one of his predecessors on the Berkeley College Republicans playlist. This is getting old.

Should today’s text be The Boy Who Cried Wolf or Chicken Little?

Today in this space we’re preaching to the choir. Last week I excoriated the press for turning a few minor league fistfights into what purported to be reporting on Berkeley’s reaction to the Amber Cummings debacle. It’s true that no more than ten Antis seem to have engaged with no more than three or four suspects from the other team, but still…when a couple hundred strapping mostly White Boys (plus a few allies of various other colors and genders) show up dressed as a cross between vampires and hangmen, you can kind of understand why the newsies were confused about who was on first.

So this week, let’s talk to those who claim to be on our side, the side of truth and justice, even though they’re costumed like the villains in comic books. 

Hey, guys, if you didn’t plan to beat people up, why were you carrying sticks? 

In a version of this conversation on a local list-serv, someone actually replied, well, the bad guys had sharpened sticks. Uh-huh. I think that was at a previous event, wasn’t it? 

My sources say that no such weapon was confiscated from either side in Berkeley on August 27. And several young stalwarts beating up one old guy doesn’t look very good, even if no one has sticks. 

Watching the—hmm, some of the language police in the many online discussions say it’s not correct to call all of them the Antifa, but if you do use that word the accent must be on the first sy LA ble, AN-ti-fa, but instead since you don’t know for sure that they all have the same politics, perhaps you should call some of them anarchists, or perhaps the Black Bloc to match their outfits since their outfits all match, but never spell it Block! Well, you know who I mean. 

And why do you hide your faces? I’ve been told those bandannas over their faces were just there to protect them from the teargas. Oh sure! 

There was no teargas in evidence in Berkeley on August 27 . They can perhaps be excused from thinking there might be, because as I walked into MLK Park at 3 or so on that date I was met by a phalanx of self-identified National Lawyers Guild members (an often useful organization I’ve belonged to from time to time) who assured me that the Berkeley Police were planning to use teargas if they hadn’t already. 

How did they know? Well, they just did. Someone saw the police putting on gas masks, perhaps. 

So I called a reliable person who works for the city whose phone number I happened to have, and I learned tear gas was explicitly banned from this event, and in point of fact was never deployed. 

That indicates that the text for today should be Chicken Little. 

You remember her, the gal who rushed around saying The Sky is Falling until she’d whipped all of the village poultry (Henny Penny, Goosy Lucy, etc.) into a frenzy, at which point Foxy Loxy ate them all up. 

Here’s the moral of this story: if you get hysterical when the likes of pathetic Amber Cummings makes a few threats which she can’t back up, you might not notice when real danger is sneaking up on us. That would be, for just one example, the DACA revocation which came not long after August 27. You can think of many more, if you can calm down for a minute. And some police sometimes somewhere do use tear gas, but not at all often if ever in Berkeley since the new council was elected. 

Contemplation of the Blackies tempts the invocation of an Aesop’s fable, the Boy Who Cried Wolf. You remember him, the shepherd who got bored and shouted that a fictitious wolf had come to eat his sheep. That brought some gratifying attention from the grownups, but the next time he hollered, when the wolf had actually arrived, no one came to help, so the sheep got eaten up. 

Aesop’s moral was that when liars tell the truth no one believes them. 

That’s perhaps a bit harsh for the Antifoids, most of whom seem to sincerely believe their own PR, but if you deploy maximum force against every nutcase the right dredges up, no one believes you when the real bad things happen. 

Today’s New York Times has a brilliant op-ed by Kurt Andersen: Hands Up. It’s Showtime 

The subhead makes his point: “Long before President Trump, the militarization of police was being shaped by fantasy and entertainment.” 

He illustrates his thesis with examples from police SWAT teams, but it could easily apply to Urban Shield and similar police militarization programs about which Berkeleyans are righteously indignant. 

Why do we need that kind of stuff? He says: 

“Because Americans love making their fantasies as realistic as possible — Old West lawmen, postmodern commandos, take your pick… It’s not only police militarization where Americans’ pervasive real-world play acting has been weaponized. I think, for instance, of the costumed and armed racists with torches and Nazi flags in Charlottesville, Va., last month. There is a synergy among our multiplying fantasies, the ones we know to be fiction, the ones we kind of sort of believe, and the ones — like imagining that policing is the same as fighting wars — we’re convinced aren’t fantasies at all.” 

And though Andersen doesn’t go there, his analysis also describes the play-acting of the guys who obligingly show up to enact the “other side” in these fantasy wars. The black-costumed brigade we see in Berkeley is just as deluded about reality as those they oppose. They remind me of nothing so much as what I’ve seen of Renaissance Faires, where “warriors” show up in kilts or simulated armor and engage in choreographed battles. 

Get real, folks! 

I’ve seen all too many examples of left-leaning fantasizing about violence in my long political life. The Weather Underground and the last gasp of the Black Panthers were a couple of them where I knew participants all too well and which came to naught but grief in the end. 

It’s what they call the optics, people. If you want to be taken seriously, it really helps to look serious. 

I have no doubt that if the Big Blackies were willing to talk about their political ideas we would agree on almost everything. If they’d be willing to skip acting out when the next right-wing dope comes to town, I’d like to challenge them to participate instead in a public forum where we all sit down and talk about what our goals are, what we’d like to achieve or prevent in the real world. That might actually accomplish something. 

I’m tempted to ask them for a face-to-face meeting, but if they’re sincerely afraid to show their faces they could wear their masks, though I always use my real face and my real name myself. 

I’d promise not to bring any tear gas, or even any pepper spray—they could search my purse at the door if they’re scared of a 77-year-old woman. 

How about it, guys? Are you brave enough to face me, figuratively at least? 

Let me know. You can reach me here: bomalley@berkeleydailyplanet.com











Public Comment

Fascism and the August 27 Events: Not the Real Threat

Rob Wrenn
Thursday September 07, 2017 - 02:05:00 PM

The word fascism is getting bandied about quite a bit without ever being defined. And “Nazis”. We are not remotely close to fascism in the US today. The real threat is quite different.

While Fascists support a strong authoritarian central government with a strong man leader and reject liberal democracy and suppress all opposition, the problem today in the US is the elected members of Congress who want to roll back government programs and protections such as Medicaid, Medicare, environmental protection, etc. They want smaller government that just spends a lot to protect the interests of American corporations abroad via big defense budgets, but with reduced government regulation of what corporations do here and abroad and with reduced government spending in all areas that benefit the large mass of low and middle income people.

Also, globalism is widely accepted by people governing this country. Trump may make populist appeals about trade deals but what has he really done to challenge the global Neo-liberal, free market system? Trump is not a fascist and he’s not as big a problem as Cruz, Rubio, Pence, McConnell, Paul, et al, the “Freedom Caucus”, and quasi-libertarian congress people, if only because he has no idea how to be president and doesn’t know anything about the main issues. Harpers Magazine had a good article about whether Trump is a fascist or a plutocrat a few months back. The conclusion: plutocrat.

The “alt-right” (another term that is not well-defined)or far right wing fringe today is still very small by historical standards. Even if you look at Charlottesville rather than handful of fringe rightwingers who showed up in Berkeley on Aug 27, who weren’t all necessarily white supremacist or nazi. 

Take the leading white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan. It reached a peak of 4 million members in the 1920s and fought reconstruction with violence in the late 1860s and in the 1870s. Today, it has less than .1% of its previous peak membership when you take population growth into account. And actual Neo-nazi groups, the kind that view Hitler positively and who want to replace democracy with authoritarian one-party rule also have very small memberships that are below what they were in the 1930s. Nationalism and “make America Great again" per se is not the same thing as fascism.  

In evaluating the impact of protest tactics, you have to consider what impact they have on the real problem which is the GOP attempt to roll back all the progress made by working people since the 1920s. Can violence by masked black-clad people against a tiny number of right wing fringe people in an effort to prevent them from assembling or speaking (rights that people on the left want to be able to exercise) somehow help persuade people who elected the GOP Congress to vote for people committed to protecting the gains made since the 1920s (social security, minimum wage, banking regulation, legalization of unions and collective bargaining, Medicare,Medicaid, civil rights protections, voting rights protections, environmental protection, workplace safety and health, etc.)?

What Berkeley Needs is a Non-Violent Containment Squad

Jo Freeman, A.B. U.C. Berkeley '65
Thursday September 07, 2017 - 01:36:00 PM

As an alumnus of the 1964 Free Speech Movement and a veteran of the civil rights movement, I was appalled to read about the recent violent confrontations in Berkeley.

Those reports took me back to the 1960s when I was doing voter registration for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and marching against segregation in Birmingham and Mississippi.

Then we were the equivalent of the "fascists" that Antifa and the black bloc are beating up in Berkeley. They called us Communists, not fascists, but like Antifa, they believed we were invaders who held them and their Southern values in contempt. The local whites whose towns we marched in burned us with their hate stares, blistered our ears with their curses, threw bottles and firecrackers at us, drove cars into our march lines, and sometimes used fists and bats. Guns were visible. Occasionally someone was shot.

Sometimes law enforcement stood between us and our detractors, their faces and rifles always pointed at us, and sometimes they took a vacation, leaving us to the will of the crowd.

Sound familiar?

What we learn from these comparisons is that when a group or a person significantly dissents from deeply held community-wide views it will be attacked when it publicly challenges those views, and the attackers will feel justified without any concern for "free speech" as a more important value.

That is dangerous. As UC Berkeley’s Chancellor Carol Christ put it "Once you embark on the path to censorship, you make your own speech vulnerable to it." 

The University demonstrated the truth of that in its own evolving policies. In the 1930s UC President Gordon Sproul imposed limits on who could speak on campus to persons approved by the administration in order to avoid "exploitation" of the university's prestige. Although aimed at Communists, over time the speaker ban expanded to anyone deemed controversial, including Malcolm X, Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, and socialist members of the British Parliament. Candidates for public office, including Adlai Stevenson and Richard Nixon, stood in city streets to address students gathered on campus. 

In 1963, President Clark Kerr and Governor Pat Brown finally persuaded the Regents to abolish the restrictive rules. At that time, state schools in the South would not have permitted anyone to speak on campus in favor of integration. Indeed, at that time Southern whites thought Communism and integration were one and the same. Professors and public school teachers who didn't stand up for segregation were fired. 

After the UC speaker ban was abolished, the student organization SLATE sponsored a series of controversial speakers, including a couple of Communists, Malcolm X and an officer of the American Nazi Party. While there was some picketing, there was no violence. Students responded to statements that they did not like with silence, punctuated by laughter. 

That was the right response. 

Now people with unpopular views can't even get a hearing, let alone laughter. 

What to do? 

Working in the civil rights movement taught me the power of non-violence. It's time to revive that approach. Imagine that when the few dozen Antifas put on their masks and grab their weapons and start pushing people around, that they are surrounded by even more people, trained in non-violence, who link arms and repeatedly tell them to stop. Mass repudiation is a very powerful way to contain potential violence. 

Joining a non-violent containment squad requires training. You have to be prepared to withstand verbal, and maybe some physical, abuse, all the while keeping your voice down and your hands down. And you have to outnumber those you are trying to contain. To succeed, non-violence requires patience and discipline. Something the black bloc doesn't seem to have. 

Establishing a non-violent containment squad can't be done by a state agency, such as the University or the police. Too many legal complications. But it could be done by the churches, or by an independent group committed to non-violence. That's how it started in the South. Long before the sit-ins hit the airwaves, students and young people were being trained in non-violence. Some of the people who did that training are still alive, as are many who practiced it. 

They should train others in how to do confrontation the right way – nonviolently. 


Tejinder Uberoi
Friday September 08, 2017 - 01:34:00 PM

Trump’s decision to kill DACA is a moral obscenity evicting 800,000 young people to a terrifying, uncertain, future. Killing DACA would be killing the American dream for the dreamers. It reeks of racism. Their only crime was to be born with a brown skin. The racist AG Jeff Sessions tried to justify his boss’s edict with voodoo economics, claiming dreamers were an economic burden on America. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

The dreamers are law abiding citizens making significant contributions to the US economy and are a huge asset to a rapidly aging population. 

Japan is paying a heavy price for their hostile immigration policy. 

Fewer and fewer people are entering the workforce. The government is encouraging singles to get married and have lots of children – so far the results have been dismal.

The Climate Crisis: Language Is Our Weapon

Harry Brill
Thursday September 07, 2017 - 02:25:00 PM

Except for Amy Goodman's progressive radio and TV program, Democracy Now, the TV news programs have resisted linking the flooding in Houston to climate change. Despite the increase in frequency and intensity of climate related disasters, the fossil fuel industry continues to insist that climate change is a fiction. This is extraordinary since almost all scientists have concluded otherwise. 

In a recent interview on the Amy Goodman program with George Monbiot, who is an expert on climate issues and a Guardian columnist, he claims that unless our current system is replaced with a better one, it will destroy us. ExxonMobil, have been pouring millions of dollars into paying "professional liars" to deny that climate change is occurring. Yet the climate related disasters are happening worldwide. In the United States, Houston has experienced its third flood in the past three years. The hurricane in Houston has cost so far 63 lives, demolished about 40,000 homes, and destroyed in this automobile dependent city 1 million cars. 

The linguist George Lakoff in his scholarly books has made a convincing case that to effectively address political issues we need to pay careful attention to the role of language. For we do not only learn a language to express ourselves. Also, the words we learn impact on how we think and act. Words are weapons. The oil industry understands this, and so does big business generally. We need to make sure that we understand that too. 

Monbiot argues that we must replace the phrase "climate change" with a term that would better describe what is occurring. "Climate change", he explains, is a bland term to describe the causes of these crisis, which have enormous impact on our lives. "Climate change" could be a good thing, a bad thing, or a neutral thing. We sometimes like climate change when winter gives way to spring. Calling it a "climate crisis", for example, would be a better phrase because it comes closer to reflecting what we are worried about. 

Indeed, we need to develop a vocabulary to counter the extraordinary misrepresentations by our opponents. For example, they freely describe what they dislike as the work of terrorists. The Heartland Institute, which is funded by the fossil fuel industry, including Koch industries and ExxonMobil, actually published an ad comparing climate change believers to terrorists. Clearly, the term terrorist has been so overused by private enterprise and government as well that it has become meaningless. However, that portrayal can be dangerous not only to those they accuse. This accusation can discourage many Americans from acting in their own interest. 

Language certainly matters, which was well understood by the Native-Americans in North Dakota, who attempted to stop the construction of a pipeline. They asked the press to call them "water protectors" rather than "protesters". For protesters can have a negative connotation among some members of the public, such as implying that their demands are unreasonable. At best, it doesn't tell us very much. Characterizing the Native American strugglers as "water protectors" is positive and more explicit. It reflects their major concern that a leak in the pipe, which often happens in pipelines, could contaminate the water. "Water Protectors" gives the public a good clue about why the Native Americans are opposed to the pipe's construction. But since the press sided with the fossil fuel industry their request was for the most part ignored. 

Clearly, in our attempts to build a moral and just society, the language issue is immensely important. 

With regard to characterizing the fossil fuel corporations, calling their claims "deceptive" is accurate and revealing. About the rise in sea level, it is one thing to believe that the corporations didn't realize what was ahead. It is quite another to claim these companies were deceptive. There is plenty of evidence to suggest the latter. That is why two Bay Area counties, Marin and San Mateo, are suing 37 fossil fuel companies. The suit claims these companies knew for nearly a half century that unrestricted production and use of their fossil fuel produces gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate. Instead of acknowledging their responsibility, they launched a multimillion dollar lobbying campaign to discredit the scientific evidence about climate change. Along with these Bay Area counties, we also should do what we can, including direct action, to discredit these companies for "their deception" and "inhumane conduct". 

Generally speaking, carefully selecting a vocabulary that most appropriately addresses the problems created by our adversaries is essential to developing a winning strategy. 

Trump’s Grandfather: Deportee

Jagjit Singh
Thursday September 07, 2017 - 02:18:00 PM

While Mr. Trump declares war on the children of illegal immigrants, perhaps he should remember that his German grandfather pleaded not to be deported from Germany.

Friedrich Trump wanted to return to Germany with his wife and daughter after having emigrated to the US. He was refused reentry because he failed to complete his mandatory military service and to register his initial emigration to the US 20 years earlier. This seems to be a familiar family trait. Remember how Donald Trump successfully used his wealth and connections to evade the Vietnam draft 5 times. 

Donald Trump's German grandfather responded to the royal decree to leave the country and never return, by pleading to the prince regent of Bavaria not to deport him. 

He described the moment he received the news as "a lightning strike from fair skies". "We were paralyzed with fright, our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick," he wrote. “Why should we be deported?" he asked, "This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree." Writing to the prince regent of Bavaria, he begged for mercy. 

This poor honest man, salt of the earth, allegedly made his fortune as a brothel owner. 

More than 100 years later, his grandson, Donald Trump, enacted new immigration rules that would have kept his grandfather out of the US. The Trump administration's hardline immigration stance also creates a dangerous precedent for Melania Trump to be deported. I wonder how the poor children of DACA whom Trump loves so much, feel as the dark clouds of deportation loom ever closer. For more details see, http://callforsocialjustice.blogspot.com/ 

Ready for the Worst? Korean Talks Needed

Romila Khanna
Thursday September 07, 2017 - 02:31:00 PM

Are we ready for the worst? I am concerned with the idea of a Third World War starting with a counter-attack by America. If we do take such drastic action to stop the Korean President from using nuclear bombs, we will not be able to save our own people from being killed. I still feel that diplomatic and friendly mutual talk can stop the aggression of other powers.  

We have to establish good relationships with other neighboring countries. Our policies should help us, as well as our neighbors, in every of aspect of growth and development. They should not feel fearful because of our preparation for counter-attack. We are trying to control other nations by advertising that America has the most powerful nuclear weapons resources to intervene in other countries affairs. 

We have lost so many brave men and women by attacking other countries in an attempt to create a better world for them. But in the bargain we have made those countries less secure, less fertile, less peaceful. 

War can never bring peace. It will never make us safe from future attacks. The more we advance our tools to destroy others, those others will think of the ways to destroy us.  

Science has given us the knowledge to have chemical weapons. Any weapons exchange will result in untimely deaths not only of thousands of defense forces but also the innocent civilians who will likely meet an untimely death. 

We must use other tactics to build friendly relationships with our neighbors.  

We think that war will bring peace. We are really not ready to face a third world war. Let us revise our policies. We are already in an economic crisis. Just pay attention to the outcome of advance weapons. 

Let us follow the golden rule of living with peace. 

Our policies should be based on respecting other nations and helping them in creating peace and happiness in their own way without pressing them to follow our dictated rules.


SQUEAKY WHEEL: The Gods are Angry

Toni Mester
Friday September 08, 2017 - 01:10:00 PM
Toni Mester

The Mayan god Huracan is hugely pissed at the way we humans are messing up the planet, and he’s letting us know by throwing wads of wind, rain, and fire our way. The great one-legged deity of ancient mythology is said to have destroyed mankind once before, and now that Donald Trump is threatening Huracan’s progeny with deportation, we can expect even more extreme weather conditions. The President had better wise up and allow “the dreamers” to stay or see Mar-a-Lago washed away. Vengeance belongs to the gods.

Just as Texas is drying out from the ravages of hurricane Harvey, the successor storm Irma is wrecking havoc in the Caribbean on its way to Florida. Human activity doesn’t cause cyclones but the effects of climate change - rising ocean temperatures and sea level - ramps them up. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture and powers a storm like Irma, one of the most destructive hurricanes ever.

We got a whiff of heat last weekend with the thermometer hitting 100ºF in Berkeley and higher inland, the record-breaking temperatures drying forests into tinder, while millions of trees have already died due to the ravages of a bark beetle infestation, adding fuel to the infernos. In California 10,000 are fighting 25 fires, the worst being the Eclipse and Salmon fires in the Klamath National Forest and the Pier fires in Sequoia.

Nature is looking pretty apocalyptic; meanwhile back in the nation’s capital, the climate change deniers fiddle while California burns and the southeast drowns, hoping that a kinder god will make America’s weather great again.

The Lessons of Houston 

As the waters recede, the eyes of Texas are upon clean-up efforts and the failure of the infrastructure that was supposed to provide flood control. Houston is built around 22 bayou systems that drain the low-lying city, only 50 feet above sea level and sinking. Two federal dams filled above capacity, forcing the Corps of Engineers to release water to prevent catastrophic collapse, reminiscent of the situation at the Oroville Dam following torrential downpours in February. 

Over 30,000 homes have been destroyed in Houston, many more damaged, while a shortage of construction workers threatens to stall rebuilding. Deporting thousands of hard-working immigrants isn’t going to help that situation. More than a million vehicles have also been ruined in a sprawling city that requires a car for commuting to work and such daily activities as shopping. 

The assessment of failure has already begun with most observers faulting extreme weather due to climate change, and a society living by indefensible habits and denial. Houston is a special case, a population of approximately 2.3 million spread over an area of 600 square miles for a density of only 3830 people per square mile, an extremely low density for a major city, the nation’s fourth largest. Compare that with San Francisco’s density of 18,440 per square mile or Berkeley at 11,583, the densest city in the East Bay, way more crowded than Oakland’s metric of 7500 people per square mile. What can a spread out urban landscape like Houston teach a tightly packed community like Berkeley? 

First, we need to limit the urban hardscape and stop paving over the earth with impermeable asphalt and concrete, says Margo Schueler, a retired civil engineer with EBMUD and Chair of the Public Works Commission. Berkeley has 216 miles of as streets and 300 miles of sidewalk for a total area of 1.9 square miles of impervious surface or 17% of our land area of 11 square miles, and that’s just the paved public area. Add to that, private driveways, parking and building coverage, and she estimates that over 50% of Berkeley’s total area is impermeable to rain, all of which whooshes from the roofs and driveways into the gutters and storm drains mapped in the Watershed Management Plan

Rain waters are collected in ten basins and funneled into storm drains; the largest being Potter, Strawberry, Codornices, and Schoolhouse, in that order, ancient creeks that drain into San Francisco Bay. Most of them are now culverted with the exception of Strawberry Creek, which is day-lighted in the UC Botanical Garden and downstream at Strawberry Creek Park in West Berkeley. All of them drain into the Bay, but some of the Strawberry and Potter waters are diverted into Aquatic Park. 

The park’s three lagoons cover almost two-thirds of the 100 acre park that was created between 1935 and 1937 by the WPA, when the highway now known as I-80 was constructed, cutting off a section of the San Francisco Bay. The rump waters were connected to their mother with tide tubes under the roads, but in later years, as the freeway was widened and ramps added, the tubes have collapsed or filled with sediment and marine growth, reducing the flow of tidal waters that supply oxygen and food for the fish and the birds. 

Five central tide tubes, located mid-way at the outer edge of the main lagoon across from Parker Street, are in disrepair and danger of total collapse, degrading the ecological health of the lagoons as well as increasing flood risks to the human activities located at water’s edge: the Rowing Club, the Youth Musical Theater, the City’s animal shelter, and the Waterside Workshops, which sustained damages during last winter’s heavy rains. 

The shallow lagoons have limited capacity and were designed for recreation, not flood control. Allowing polluted run-off into a bird habitat also affects the health of many permanent and migratory species including egrets, herons, pelicans, and ducks. Over the years, the City has investigated the hydrology and ecology of Aquatic Park, including a comprehensive natural resources management study that laid the groundwork for much needed upgrades. 

Fixing the central tide tubes has become a priority for parks director Scott Ferris, who has hired civil engineer Liza McNulty to direct the repairs. She is now in the research phase of the project, which is funded by the T1 bonds passed in November 2016. 

The second lesson of the Houston flood is to increase and enhance the permeable ground area with absorbent natural planting and structures like swales, green roofs, cisterns, retention ponds, porous pavement, buffers, and filter strips: together known as green infrastructure, which collect and clean rain to prevent it from become raging and polluted torrents. A recent NPR article cites aging infrastructure and rapid growth without zoning regulations as causes of the dangerous conditions in the Houston downpours. An engineer at Texas A&M said that excessive paving “comprises the natural infrastructure…making it difficult for the water to absorb and be held by the prairie and the wetlands, and slowly release into Galveston Bay.” 

Berkeley parks and waterfront commissioner Jim McGrath echoes these warnings in his assessment of our local flood preparedness. More green infrastructure, larger culverts, better maintenance, and attention to new discharge permits are required. McGrath, a retired environmental engineer at the Port of Oakland, now serves as the vice-chair of the Regional Water Quality Control Board that oversees wastewater flow into the Bay, groundwater protection, and watershed management and issues permits to enforce the Clean Water Act and imposes fines on cities that don’t meet requirements. The unique challenges of Berkeley’s built environment derive from our high population density combined with the hills’ steep rise in elevation, on top of an aging and inadequate storm drain and sewer infrastructure. 

Growth v. Resilience 

The constant pressure to provide housing for population and economic growth can overwhelm the need to preserve a resilient natural environment including absorbent open space, green infrastructure, and vegetation. New zoning regulations can limit the footprint of buildings and require permeable pavement for driveways and parking spaces. A good example of a porous surface can be found in the parking lot of the animal shelter at the northern tip of Aquatic Park. 

The Friends of R-1A are advancing reform of the West Berkeley residential zone by limiting the height of backyard houses and the overall built floor area of lots. The allowance for two units will remain the same, but open space for gardens and family outdoor living will increase. Please sign our Move-On petition “Keep West Berkeley Affordable” regardless of where you live in Berkeley because the R-1A decision will set a trend for in-fill in the lower density neighborhoods. 

For a cogent and compelling analysis of the economic and environmental factors involved in climate change, both cause and effect, read Christian Parenti’s article “If We Fail” available on jacobinmag.com. Parenti, the author of Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (2011) argues that “In the near term, perhaps starting in the 2020s or 2030s, the foremost problem will probably be a new climate-driven urban crisis of disinvestment, abandonment, and depopulation caused by rising sea levels and large inundating storms that will leave rotting urban infrastructure.” It’s scary as hell and increasingly probable, as people who care to raise their heads from the sand can easily see simply by glancing at today’s headlines. 

As you probably guessed, the Mayan name Huracan, god of wind, storm and fire, is the source of the word hurricane, which came into English through Spanish and Taino, a Caribbean language. He’s been around for thousands of years, growing increasingly furious at our greed and stupidity. He needs to be appeased, and your guess on how best to do that is probably as good as mine. 


Toni Mester is a resident of West Berkeley.  



ECLECTIC RANT: Passing the Dream Act — a long shot at best

Ralph E. Stone
Friday September 08, 2017 - 01:12:00 PM

Trump has decided to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) over six months unless Congress steps in with its own plan for these childhood arrivals.

If Trump has a "great love for DACA recipients," he would have called on Congress to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act or Dream Act, and if it did, promise to sign it into law. 

The Dream Act  

The Dream Act was first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001, by Senators Dick Durbin (D- Illinois) and Orrin Hatch (R- Utah), and has since been reintroduced several times but has failed to pass.  

The Dream Act would require proof of arriving in the U.S before age 16; proof of U.S. residency for at least 5 consecutive years; have registered for the Selective Service; be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of the enactment of the bill; and have graduated from an American High School, obtained a GED, or been admitted into an institution of higher learning.  

During the first six years, qualifying people would be granted "conditional" status and be required to (a) graduate from a 2-year community college; (b) complete at least two years towards a four-year degree or (c) serve two years in the U.S. military. If they have met all of the conditions at the end of the 6-year conditional period, they would be granted permanent residency, which would eventually allow them to become U.S. citizens. 

Congress hasn't passed the Dream Act in the past and unless House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump get behind the Dream Act, it probably won't pass now. Remember, by deferring DACA, Trump played to his base who are delighted. Would his base approve of Trump signing the Dream Act? I doubt it.  

Obama had Authority to Issue DACA 

Trump should not be allowed to claim a legal justification for a political decision for it is absolute nonsense that Obama's issuance of DACA by executive order was unconstitutional. Once an individual is in the U.S., it is the executive branch, not Congress, that decides who will be deported. And Congress did not allocate enough money for the executive branch to deport the approximately 11.3 million undocumented aliens. As a result, most administrations focus enforcement on undocumented individuals who are national security threats, criminals, or who similarly endanger the “public safety.” It was within Obama's discretionary power as executive to focus less on "low priority" aliens such as childhood arrivals.  

The executive does have the unilateral authority to permit certain undocumented immigrants to remain in the country — a process known as “deferred action” — the benefits afforded to DACA beneficiaries flow from federal law. Federal regulations promulgated in 1981, for example, list “an alien who has been granted deferred action” as one of several kinds of immigrants who may “apply for employment authorization” from the federal government. Thus, it was within Obama's power to allow DACA beneficiaries to live and work in the U.S. 

I am hopeful that the Dream Act or similar act will be signed into law. I am not optimistic though. 

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Be Careful What You Tell Yourself

Jack Bragen
Friday September 08, 2017 - 01:16:00 PM

When you feel bad, feel down and out, or if you are very upset, it matters how you deal with that. You should not tell yourself things such as: "I'm going crazy." You should not tell yourself, "What's wrong with me?"  

It is important that you not mentally beat yourself up with self-derogatory thoughts.  

It is known as "self-talk." It molds how you function, very much affects your mood, and it is the seed of many behavioral choices. What you tell yourself affects you. What you tell yourself when you become upset is amplified tenfold or even fiftyfold.  

Once these "messages" that you have sent to yourself are implanted (by virtue of them being stored in your subconscous) it can take a lot of work to undo them.  

I have ongoing self-trashing within my mind. This is because when I was young, other kids drilled into my head on a daily basis, that I was weak, was a "freak" and was unfit. I have residual anger over this. As an adult in possession of my full faculties, I try to remind myself that they were wrong about me.  

(Many of them might be surprised that I am still alive and functioning.)  

Self-talk, or the internal dialog about oneself, is partly learned through what others have said about us. It affects our prospects for material success. It affects our relationships. It affects our level of self-confidence.  

On top of that, if we have a brain malfunction which is biologically-based, it affects self-talk, and it affects how much we are influenced by it. 

In order to look at and revise self-talk, another internal perspective is needed. You must be able to mentally take a step back or a step sideways, and view the thoughts. You must also be able to evaluate the thoughts. This is an internal sense that anyone can develop with practice.  

One way of starting this is to write down the internal dialog on paper. Whatever you are thinking, regardless of whether or not you believe it is true, write it down. Then come back to that piece of paper the following day, and think about what you've written.  

I do not suggest using a computer to do the above. 

If we can intentionally produce "positive" self-talk, thoughts about ourselves that promote confidence and well-being, it improves quality of life. These thoughts, if you repeat them, could replace "negative" self-talk--that undermines our efforts in life. This deliberate, intentional self-talk should be realistic, and should promote a good, constructive self-image. 

Changing your thoughts to ones that are more fortifying, that produce confidence, and that help you feel better, is the idea. The antithesis of that is to allow the thoughts to run on autopilot, or on automatic. Failure to pick and choose what thoughts you use to describe yourself, leaves you vulnerable to outside influences, to thoughts that are inaccurate, or to thoughts that are haphazard and have no organization.  

Creating good, helpful self-talk is one of a number of strategies for navigating to a better place.  

For me (as an example), it is important for me to remind myself that the people who said I was weak, a freak, and unfit, were not correct about me. 

It is important that the self-talk that you intentionally use as replacement thoughts should be realistic, and should not create additional problems.  

Producing good self-talk to replace the bad is a separate issue from treating delusions, depression, or bipolar symptoms. Changing the self-talk is psychological, and not psychiatric. By that, I mean it won't reverse mental illness. However, it could increase quality of life. 

There is no reason to put oneself down. There is no reason to take sides with one's enemies and against oneself. There is no reason to believe the liars, people who bully others because they are afraid to look weak, to look silly, or to think for themselves.  

Changing self-talk takes a lot of time and a lot of focus, and you should not expect that you can accomplish it instantly. These skills can only be developed over a long period of studying your mind, and learning more about how your mind works or doesn't work.  

This should not become yet another standard that we feel we don't measure up to. The idea is to stop judging ourselves. If we start judging ourselves based on judging ourselves, it is counterproductive.  

It can help, sometimes, to share some of these thoughts with a trusted friend or relative, but you don't have to do this if you aren't ready, or if you would rather not. Your mind is your property. And, for that matter, so your body.

Arts & Events

New: Ars Minerva Offers a Scintillating LA CIRCE

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday September 11, 2017 - 11:44:00 AM

In a lifetime of opera-going, having attended nearly 800 fully staged operas, I’ve never before attended an opera whose composer was unknown. However, on Saturday, September 9, I attended at San Francisco’s ODC Theatre the Ars Minerva production of the 17th century opera La Circe, whose composer may or may not be Pietro Andrea Ziani, or may or may not be Francesco Freschi. These two composers both worked in Venice around the time La Circe was first performed. However, La Circe’s 1665 premiere took place not in Venice but in Vienna. For this reason, among others, Ars Minerva credits this opera to Pietro Andrea Ziani, a well-known Venetian composer who was in Vienna in the service of the Empress Eleonora around the time of La Circe’s 1665 Vienna premiere.  

Whoever the composer may be, La Circe turned out to be a wonderful, thoroughly engaging opera, both musically and dramatically. Starring as Circe was renowned mezzo-soprano Céline Ricci, who, as founder and artistic director of Ars Minerva, has brought to San Francisco audiences three lost or forgotten gems of Venetian 17th century opera. In 2014 Céline Ricci brought us the sparkling La Cleopatra by Daniele da Castrovillari; and in 2016 she produced Le Amazone nelle isole fortunate by Carlo Pallavicino. These two plus Le Circe are long-forgotten operas re-discovered by Céline Ricci in the Contarini Bequest of the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice. Céline Ricci’s resolve in bringing these long-neglected operas to San Francisco audiences is highly commendable, putting us in the forefront of revivals of Italian Baroque operas that have never been produced anywhere since their 17th century premieres.  

La Circe takes up the story of the beautiful and magical sorceress Circe who, in Homer’s Odyssey, turned half of Odysseus’s crew into swine, then seduced Odysseus into being her lover for a year. In this opera, however, the story begins after Odysseus (here identified in Italian as Ulysses) has already left Circe’s island to continue on his homeward journey to Ithaca, leaving Circe dejected and vengeful. (This version of the tale comes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.)  

What interested Céline Ricci in this opera, as she told me in an interview for my preview of La Circe, which appeared in the August 26 issue of Berkeley Daily Planet, was that this opera focuses on different ways of loving, some bad and some good. In Circe’s desire to avenge what she sees as her betrayal by Ulysses (Odysseus), she seeks to seduce each and every man on the island where she uses her magical powers to rule. First she tries to seduce Glauco, a sea-creature much enamored of the sea-nymph Scylla. However, Scylla does not requite the amorous attention of Glauco, and she dedicates herself to chaste frolicking in the waves. In spite of Glauco’s unsuccessful wooing of Scylla, Circe finds herself so jealous of her rival for Glauco’s affections that she uses her magic powers to transform Scylla first into a monster then into a shoreline rock. This is only the first of Circe’s overkill in love relations.  

On Circe’s island there is another couple, Andromaca and Pirro (Pyrrhus), who at first have been separated by a shipwreck in a storm, but who are lovingly reunited as the survivors of the storm come ashore. Andromaca and Pirro are tested by Circe, who tries to seduce Pirro and separate him from his beloved Andromaca, but in remaining steadfast in their love Andromaca and Pirro form a positive counterweight to the negative way of loving embodied by both Circe and Glauco, who each seek to impose their love on individuals who don’t respond favorably to their unwanted advances. In the role of Glauco, tenor Kyle Stegall was excellent, his voice and demeanor perfectly mirroring his character’s stubborn pursuit, albeit in vain, of his beloved Scylla. As the winsome nymph Scylla, soprano Aurélie Veruni was outstanding. Her soprano voice was full of youthful delight in her love of the independent sea-life. Scylla may have led Glauco on with her occasionally flirtatious ways, but she was adamant in refusing Glauco’s insistent demands for more. 

In the title role, Céline Ricci gave a superb performance as the troubled and vengeful Circe. Though Circe is angry at having been abandoned (in Ovid’s version) by Odysseus/Ulysses, she is also a woman, albeit a daughter of the Sun (Helios). As a woman Circe is almost believable in her vacillating between vengeance against men and possible mercy towards all the characters in her island domain. Her emotional trajectory is at the heart of this opera, and Céline Ricci gave a vocally splendid and dramatically vivid account of Circe’s torment. 

In this production of La Circe, which was directed by Céline Ricci, there were two episodes of breathtaking aerial dancing by Katherine Hutchinson, who was trained in classical ballet before taking up aerial dancing. Both episodes of aerial dance occur when Circe is using her magical powers, and both are set to music by composers other than either Pietro Andrea Ziani or Francesco Freschi. The Act I dance is set to music by Giovanni Legrenzi, and the Act II dance, which occurs when, in a fit of jealousy, Circe turns Scylla into a monster, is set to a slow passacaglia by Biaggio Marini. (In the absence of copyrights 17th century Italian composers often borrowed bits and pieces of other composers’ work to insert into work of their own, so in this sense Céline Ricci and her Ars Minerva company are simply following what was the norm in producing 17th century Venetian operas.) 

The role of Andromaca was beautifully sung by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich, who combines lustrous tone and dazzling vocal technique. Her Act I lament, “dammi sospiriti” was a thing of beauty, and her Act II aria, “Di Pirro eche sarà,” won her much-deserved applause. Andromaca’s beloved Pirro was splendidly sung by countertenor Ryan Belongie, who joined in a lovely duet with Kindra Scharich’s Andromaca at the close of Act I. To further complicate the love intrigues on Circe’s island, there is another woman, Aegle, who loves Glauco and feels betrayed by his obsessive courting of Scylla. So Aegle, vividly sung here by contralto Jasmine Johnson, disguises herself as a man, Floreno, and maneuvers to oblige Glauco to recognize the error of his vain pursuit of Scylla. Comic relief in La Circe is provided by the character Gligoro, sung here by tenor Jonathan Smucker. Gligoro sings a rollicking drinking song while getting uproariously drunk with his friend Floreno. (During this scene, video artist Patricia Nardi flashed onscreen an image of two pig-like human faces, thus evoking both Circe’s ability to turn men into swine and alcohol’s ability to do likewise. Elsewhere in La Circe, Nardi’s images were often dramatically effective, whether serene and beautiful or violent and terrifying.) Finally, baritone Igor Vieira did triple-duty singing three bit parts. The chamber orchestra was conducted by Derek Tam from the harpsichord. Adam Cockerham was indispensible on theorbo, as was Gretchen Claassen on cello. Violinists were Laura Rubenstein-Salzedo and Nathalie Carducci, and the violist was Addi Liu. All in all, Celine Ricci and the Ars Minerva company did themselves proud in bringing to San Francisco La Circe, their third local and worldwide revival of long forgotten Venetian operas.  


New: Opening Night Glitter at the Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday September 11, 2017 - 11:31:00 AM

Opening Night at the San Francisco Opera is not quite the event it used to be, though it still has its share of glitter. However, I can recall opening nights when people who couldn’t afford tickets used to line the streets outside the War Memorial Opera House just to check out what the rich and gaudy were wearing, and TV crews lurked inside the lobby to film the high society crowd as they entered. Happily, none of this fashion-frenzy was on display at this year’s opening night on Friday, September 8. Mostly, what glitter on offer Friday was on stage, where David Hockney’s garish sets for Puccini’s Turando, which takes place at the Imperial Palace of Peking, glittered in lurid reds and greens, and the cast and huge chorus packed the stage wearing exotic and colorful costumes. 

Hockney’s sets for Turandot were first seen here in 1993 and have been restaged here ever since. Though I had attended most if not all of the Turandot productions featuring Hockney’s sets, they left no lasting impression on me. Nor did they this time around. Lurid spectacle is not what I’m looking for in coming to the opera, though impresarios of opera often lay on lurid spectacle with a heavy hand. What I come to opera for is, above all, great singing, and, hopefully, great music-drama. In these areas, Puccini’s Turandot garners only a B-minus grade in my book. Great music-drama it is not. And though this opera offers a few moments of fine music that may (or may not) be beautifully sung, on the whole it is perhaps my least favorite of Puccini’s operas. The main characters in Turandot are wooden: Calaf, who falls head over heels in love with Princess Turandot when he happens to catch a glimpse of her from afar, is impetuous and foolhardy; and Turandot herself is an ice-princess if ever there was one. Timur, the long-lost father of Calaf, is ravaged by old age and a hard life, and is nearly blind. He has little to sing and is merely a pathetic figure. He is helped through life by the slave-girl Liù, who is the only truly sympathetic character in the opera. 

Interestingly, in this Turandot the finest, most moving singing was supplied by the young Adler Fellow soprano, Toni Marie Palmertree, who sang the role of Liù. I had heard Palmertree before, when she sang an aria from I Pagliacci in the 2016 Adler Fellows Gala Concert. In reviewing her performance in that concert I sounded a note of caution, for although her voice has spectacular high notes that she delivers with great volume and coloration, I found little else in her singing that was in any way moving much less remarkable. Thus I feared Toni Marie Palmertree might fall into the one-trick pony category of singers who do one thing and only one thing well. Happily, Palmertree’s engaging peformance as Liù in Turandot puts that fear to rest. Her Act I aria, “Signore, ascolta!” when she tries to warn Calaf of the dangers he faces in trying to win Turandot’s love, started out in the one-trick pony genre, with Palmertree only singing movingly in the high notes sung fortissimo. But in the second and more extended section of this aria, Palmertree imbued even her softly sung phrases with great depth of feeling; and the big high notes were impressively there for her whenever needed. Moreover, Palmertree’s performance as Liù grew in matters of nuance and feeling as the opera progressed. 

As Timur, bass Raymond Aceto displayed a powerful voice that seemed strangely impressive from a character apparently so old and feeble. His Act I narrative of his lost battles as King of Tartary and subsequent exile, “Perduta la battaglia,” was sung with power and pride, though imbued throughout with self-pity at his fate, long cared for only by the faithful slave-girl Liù. When Calaf asks Liù why she remains so devoted to old Timur, Liù shyly replies that it’s because Calaf one day smiled at her long ago in the courtyard of Timur’s palace. 

In the role of Calaf, tenor Brain Jagde (pronounced Jade) was robust. Jagde’s voice is a baritonal tenor, long on power but short on nuance and coloration. Thus, Jagde’s voice fits quite well the part of the swaggering but somewhat wooden Calaf. His Act I aria, “Non piangere, Liù,” was movingly sung. Jagde’s Act III aria, the famous “Nessun dorma,” was ably, if not memorably, sung. Singing the role of Turandot was soprano Martina Serafin, a native of Vienna, Austria. Given that Turandot is seen (very briefly) but not heard in Act I, it is not until Act II that she gets to sing, as she tells of her beautiful ancestor, Princess Lo-u Ling, who was brutally slain by a conquering prince. Seeking to avenge her ancestor, Turandot poses three riddles to every man seeking to wed her. If they solve the riddles, they wed Turandot. If not, they have their head chopped off. Thirteen candidates have lost their heads this year alone. Martina Serafin’s Turandot sang with scathing venom as she reveled in the vengeance she enacted on each and every man. However, when Calaf successfully answers the three riddles Turandot poses him, he in turn poses a riddle to her. If Turandot can discover his name before dawn, he offers her his head. Yet Calaf is supremely confident he will win Turandot’s love.  

Throughout Acts I and II, three of the Chinese emperor’s ministers, comically named Ping, Pang, and Pong, try to dissuade Calaf from seeking to wed Turandot. Led by Ping, earnestly sung here by baritone Joo Won Kang, they lament the brutality of Turandot’s vengeful actions and they long wistfully for the more peaceful bygone days when they were happy in their country villages. The role of Pang was ably sung by tenor Julius Ahn, and the role of Pong was sung in lively fashion by tenor Joel Sorensen. As the aging Emperor of China, tenor Robert Brubaker sounded so weak it seemed he was on his last days. Perhaps Brubaker exaggerated the Emperor’s weakness on purpose. At least I’d like to think so. In the role of a Mandarin officer of the Emperor, bass-baritone Brad Walker had only a bit part, but he sang it well and powerfully. Two Handmaidens were ably sung by soprano Kathleen Bayler and soprano Virginia Pluth.  

Puccini’s orchestration for Turandot includes a Chinese gong, a xylophone, a harp, a celeste, a glockenspiel, an organ, and two alto saxophones plus expanded percussion. Several of his Chinese-inspired melodies were derived from a music-box lent to Puccini that played Chinese folk-tunes. San Francisco Opera’s Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducted this Turandot, and he led the orchestra, cast, and chorus in a finely honed interpretation of Puccini’s score. Incidentally, the score was left unfinished at Puccini’s death, with only sketches remaining for the opera’s final section. At the premiere of Turandot at Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1926, conductor Arturo Toscanini brought the music to a halt as the music for Liù’s funeral cortege faded away, and Toscanini announced that here the composer laid down his pen. The audience responded with heartfelt cries of “Viva Puccini!” The final section of Turandot as we know it was penned by Franco Alfano, who based his additions on the sketch notes left by Puccini. This San Francisco Opera production was capably directed by Garnett Bruce, with exotic costumes by Ian Falconer, original lighting by Thomas J. Munn, new lighting by Gary Marder, and choreography by Lawrence Pech. Chorus Director was Ian Robertson. 

Turandot repeats with this same cast throughout September, then will be performed with a new cast and conductor in November and December.  




KPFA Author Events Schedule, Fall 2017

Wednesday September 13, 2017 - 11:20:00 AM

September 20, Wednesday, 7:30 pm


Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley

Hosted by Alejandro Murguia

with Joyce Jenkins, Jane Norling

October 4, Wednesday, 8 PM


ANNIE LEONARD: RESISTANCE: What Does Effective Resistance

Look Like and Include Today?

Pauley Ballroom, U.C. Campus, Berkeley

Co-sponsored by KPFA Radio

Contact: events.berkeley.edu or LSEvents@berkeley.edu

October 13, Friday, 7:30 pm


In conversation with JITU BROWN

The Fight for Public Education

Oakland Tech High School, 4351 Broadway, Oakland

Dual benefit With Anthony Cody

Hosted by: Kevin Cartwright

Contact: Anthony Cody, anthony_cody@hotmail.com

October 19, Thursday, 7:30 pm

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, What Donald Trump is Doing to You Now That He is President

First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Street, Berkeley

Host: Brian Edwards Tiekert

Publicist: Alexandra Primiani, alexandra@mhpbooks.com

November 8, Wednesday, 7:30 pm

LEWIS LAPHAM, Age of Folly: America Abandons Its Democracy

Prices $15 to $18, with reception

First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, 2407 Dana Street, Berkeley

Hosted by: Mitch Jeserich

Publicist: Wes House, wes@versobooks.com

November 16, Thursday, 7:30 pm.

ALICE WATERS, Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Countercultural Cook

With Tom Luddy

First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

Dual benefit for KPFA and Edible Schoolyard

Hosted by: Kris Welch

Contact: Ken Preston. ken@kpfa.org. 510.967.4495

Sunday, November 19

Hunter of Stories: A Tribute to Eduardo Galeano

With Alice Walker, Alejandro Murguia, Al Young, and Aurora Levins Morales

First Congregational church of Berkeley

Publicist: Kristina Fazzalaro <Kristina.Fazzalaro@hbgusa.com>

Tax the Rich Turns Six on Monday

Harry Brill
Thursday September 07, 2017 - 02:14:00 PM

This coming Monday, September 11 the Tax the Rich group will be celebrating a tremendous achievement, its sixth year birthday party. The group has been protesting and working on issues since September 12, 2011. On domestic issues, it has been the longest running political rally in Berkeley's history. Indeed, that's six years on the streets of Solano Avenue. 

During these years we have along with other organizations won public support for Prop 30, which funnels money to the public schools by increasing taxes on those in the higher income brackets. The Tax the Rich group played a major role in enacting a minimum wage law in Berkeley. The group also played a role in winning a minimum wage of $15 an hour wage for working people in Berkeley. On another occasion we organized a mass picket of the Bank of America to assure that the bank would not engage in unfair or illegal foreclosures. And every week our street rallies does what it can to inform those who are passing by of the issues they should be concerned about. 

We very much hope that you will attend our birthday party this coming Monday, which is from 5-6pm. The location is near the top of Solano Avenue, by the closed movie theater. 

Please come and bring your friends as well.