The Week



Flash: The Poor Tour Hits the Road Again

Carol Denney
Friday November 03, 2017 - 04:00:00 PM

On Friday afternoon, November 3rd, a storm was brewing in Berkeley. Winds chased dry leaves into corners, grey clouds gathered, and people on the street tacked any tarps they had down over their belongings anticipating rain. -more-

Flash: Federal Judge orders Berkeley to Produce Winter Plan for Homeless Shelter

Wednesday November 01, 2017 - 04:08:00 PM

Federal District Judge William Alsup today has ordered the city of Berkeley, by November 28, to submit to him “a practical plan for shelter for its homeless during the coming winter.”

He instructs the city authorities not to “simply recite the programs the City purports to offer, for they are admittedly insufficient.”

Instead, the city is required to “(s)ubmit a plan that will shelter substantially all of Berkeley's homeless.” He says in his order that “The Court is not ordering the plan to be adopted but wants to be informed, and the parties and counsel to be informed, concerning the scope of possible relief. “

The judge has also ordered that by the same date, Dan Siegel, the attorney for the homeless people who are now camped on Bay Area Rapid Transit land at the Berkeley/Oakland border, should submit his own proposed plan for sheltering the homelss . Siegel is told to “Be specific. Name soccer fields and open spaces he would convert to tent cities. Failure to be specific may be a sign that there is no practical solution.”

The judge in his order today did not address what the consequences of having no practical solution might be. -more-

New: Public Health Alert re Trader Joe's Salads

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Tuesday October 31, 2017 - 11:43:00 PM

A public health alert has been issued because salads contaminated with bacteria were shipped to some Trader Joe's stores in California and could cause health problems, officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Tuesday. -more-

New: Around & About--Ancient Indian Theater & Dance: Kudiyattam

Ken Bullock
Wednesday November 01, 2017 - 10:31:00 AM

This weekend at the Mondavi Center, UC Davis

A remarkable event--perhaps the oldest ongoing theater form in the world, Kudiyattam, the last representative of the 2000 year old Sanskrit Theater, will be featured in performances this Friday and Saturday nights at the Mondavi Center on the UC Davis campus. -more-

Updated: Judge Declines to Block Eviction of Homelss Camp Near Berkeley Bart Tracks

Julia Cheever (BCN)
Tuesday October 31, 2017 - 11:39:00 PM

A federal judge in San Francisco today turned down a bid by five residents of a homeless camp near BART tracks in South Berkeley for a preliminary injunction blocking their eviction by the transit agency. -more-

New: Ensuring Police Accountability - Join us October 31st!

Councilmember Kate Harrison
Monday October 30, 2017 - 08:09:00 PM

At next Tuesday’s Berkeley City Council meeting, the Council will consider legislation from our office directing the City Manager to require that all uses of force by the Berkeley Police Department are captured and analyzed with a goal of continuing de-escalation (item number 26 on the agenda). While we have an excellent police department that has already been taking steps to achieve improvements, it is critical that the Council help to guide and inform their efforts with a set of broad principles and requirements for the purpose of enhancing our use of force policy. The legislation is cosponsored by Mayor Arreguín and Councilmembers Bartlett and Worthington. -more-

New: A Solution to Powerline-Sparked Wildfires: Over-Grounding

Gar Smith
Monday October 30, 2017 - 12:14:00 PM

There is concern that PG&E's electric transmission lines may have played a role in Northern California's devastating wildfires. Many times in the past, falling branches and trees toppled by high winds have crashed into electric transmission lines triggering grassfires that have erupted into major blazes. (It's happened before: in 2015, a damaged PG&E powerline started a fire in Amador County that fire burned for 22 days, killed two people, destroyed 549 homes and blackened 70,868 acres.)

During October's winds, cellphone images captured transformers dramatically erupting along suburban streets, underscoring the ignition potential of powerpoles inside cities as well as in the wooded foothills surrounding them.

The obvious solution—practiced in most of the world's developed nations—is to relocate these risky overhanging electric lines by placing them underground.


Federal Judge To Consider Constutional Rights Of Homeless Encampment Tomorrow

Margy Wlikinson
Monday October 30, 2017 - 08:07:00 PM

On Tuesday, October 31, 2017, attorneys representing the members of the Berkeley group, First They Came for the Homeless, will ask a federal judge to extend his injunction forbidding BART from evicting the homeless camp near the intersection of Martin Luther King Way and Alcatraz Ave in Berkeley. The hearing before Judge William H. Alsup will take place at 9:00 AM in Courtroom 8 in the federal courthouse at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco.​ -more-

New: It’s time to drive away the developers (Public Comment)

Steve Martinot
Monday October 30, 2017 - 12:12:00 PM

Funny how homelessness and the displacement of low income families by inordinate rent increases get turned against each other as issues. They are shunted into separate political domains, though building affordable housing would resolve both. The homeless are given shelters sufficient for 10% of their numbers, and the tenants facing displacement are given subsidy money to tide them over for a couple of months until the next threat of eviction. This, at least, is the extent to which City Council has seen fit to make positive policy with respect to these allegedly dual problems. The shelters guarantee that the problem of homelessness will not be reduced, and the city will continue to respond to it with increased policing. And addressing displacement only through monetary channels guarantees that for housing, the city will continue to turn to for-profit developers who will build market rate housing that induces displacement, and that the displaced cannot afford. Homelessness and housing get turned into policing and profiting, and people get thrown into the streets because there is no affordable housing. The outcome is the inability of the city to protect the majority of its people, the two-thirds of the population who are renters. -more-

New: AROUND & ABOUT THEATER: Inferno Theatre's New 'Dracula'

Ken Bullock
Sunday October 29, 2017 - 09:08:00 PM

"Children of the night--what music they make!" That old potboiler of horror, 'Dracula,' most famous for Bela Lugosi's campy performance as the vampire Count, has been reworked by Giulio Perrone of Berkeley's Inferno Theatre (Inferno did an earlier adaptation by Perrone in the Fall of 2012 that got a rave review in these pages)--and Inferno is staging it Thursday through Sunday nights, till Saturday, November 18, at the Brooklyn Preserve, just off International Boulevard near Lake Merritt. -more-

Inclusionary Housing Requirements Now Allowed

Zelda Bronstein
Friday November 03, 2017 - 07:41:00 PM

In his October 30 op-ed, “It’s time to drive away the developers,” Steve Martinot doesn’t seem to realize that on September 29, Jerry Brown signed a bill, AB 1505, that overrides the Palmer decision and allows cities and counties to establish inclusionary zoning requirements—that is, requirements that new residential rental projects include a specified amount of officially affordable housing. -more-

New: Jane: Dr. Goodall and the Real Planet of the Apes

Review by Gar Smith
Sunday October 29, 2017 - 09:06:00 PM

Opens October 27 at Berkeley's Elmwood Theater

When I first saw the movie posters for Jane—the story of world-famous chimpanzee researcher Dr. Jane Goodall—I assumed it was a biopic and I wondered who had been chosen to play the lead.

To my surprise, it turns out that this true tale of a young woman's journey from a prim British childhood to a primeval African adventure (and onwards to global fame as an environmental activist) is a documentary starring none other than Jane Goodall herself.

The film is a magnificent cinematic and emotional achievement—by turns, whimsical, magical, illuminating, astonishing, and frightening.

Adding to the magic is the fact that this documentary only exists because of the recent chance discovery of 100 hours of presumably lost reels of 16mm film. -more-



How about an Armistice Day Peace Picnic in Berkeley on November 11?

Becky O'Malley
Friday October 27, 2017 - 01:27:00 PM

SECOND UPDATE, 11/3/17: It's now rumored that the Joey Gibson/Amber Cummings crowd of big baddies is going to bail on their November 11 rally. What a shame, since local stalwarts were busy organizing a Peace Picnic to shame them. On the other hand, rain is predicted, which might put the kibosh on both events. Watch this space for developments. -more-

Public Comment

Perpetual War

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday October 27, 2017 - 02:13:00 PM

The Pentagon budget for fiscal 2017-18 is a whopping $640 billion consuming 55% of discretionary government spending. Our lawmakers are loath to oppose funding the war machine lest they be accused of being weak on terrorism. We have troops spread across the globe in more than 182 countries.

With an appalling record of overthrowing democratically elected governments around the world (Iran 1953, Guatemala, 1954, Congo, 1960, Dominican Republic . . ) the CIA continues to be a destabilizing force around the world with 38,000 currently engaged in secret missions - with no accountability. Trillions of dollars and thousands of lives have been lost. The US continues to sell weapons to many rogue states guilty of appalling human rights abuses such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and many of the Gulf States. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have perished in these a rich recruitment for its enemies. We must reject the false belief that we have a divine right to possess WMD’s. After all we are the only nation guilty of unleashing these terrifying weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We should bring back the draft so ALL Americans have a stake in Pentagon’s perpetual wars.

We need to replace our “Shock and Awe” with robust diplomacy. To compound global instability, Islam is wreaking havoc around the world, its terrorism rooted in its scriptures, to “kill all infidels”. Few Islamic scholars voice their opposition to this jihad rhetoric. -more-

Supreme Court Confirmations: Extremism and Acquiescence

Harry Brill
Thursday October 26, 2017 - 02:50:00 PM

If a public official is impeached, that is, found guilty of misconduct, proceedings can then take place to remove the individual from office. In the early 19th century, a Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Chase, was tried for impeachment because he allowed his political views to interfere with his decisions. If this principle was applied to the conservative justices generally, very few would have escaped impeachment.

Too many outrageous and notorious Supreme Court decisions have been rationalized by making very flimsy connections to the American constitution. No language in the second Amendment justifies individuals owning guns for personal use. Yet the court ruled in 2008 that the 2nd amendment gave individuals a constitutional right to own guns. This decision motivated millions of Americans to arm themselves. The court's decision was made by five justices who were recommended by Ronald Reagan or George Bush and approved by the Senate majority. When the economic interests of business are involved these judges somehow find a constitutional connection. In this instance they have served the predatory economic interests of the National Rifle Association (NRA). That more than 12,000 people were killed by guns last year, and almost 1300 children suffer gun deaths annually are not among the concerns of the NRA.

These five justices have made many other decisions that have been detrimental to the public and especially the more vulnerable sectors of the public. Think about it --the main problem with the Supreme Court is that although the court plays a major and powerful role shaping public policy it is really a totalitarian institution. Once appointed, the justices are beholden to nobody, not even to the president who nominated them nor the senators who confirm them. Because these justices enjoy a lifetime appointment, they can and often do ignore public opinion. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Have We Reached Trump’s Tipping Point?

Bob Burnett
Friday October 27, 2017 - 01:57:00 PM

Even by Trump regime standards, the past several weeks have been unusually tumultuous. First, Trump botched aid to Puerto Rico; then he muffed condolence calls to widows. Now he's being condemned by two Republican Senators. Have we reached the long-awaited 'tipping point"? Is this the beginning of the end of the Trump era?

Since Trump took office, Democrats have been waiting for one of two events. Either Trump would mature and begin to act presidential, or his base would desert him. After nine months, it's clear that Trump is not going to change. (On October 24th, Republican Senator Jeff Flake deplored Trump's "reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior.") Given Trump's inflexibility, are we nearing the point where his base deserts him?

According to the political website 538 Trump's popularity has remained stable for five months. It's currently at 56.7 percent disapprove and 37.2 percent approve; since May, Trump's approval ratings have stayed within a band of 54 to 56 percent disapprove and 37 to 39 percent approve. He's an unpopular President but, based on this metric, his base is sticking with him.

Democrats find Trump so repugnant that's it's hard to imagine that any American would support him. Nonetheless, he's tightened his grip on most Republican voters. There are three reasons for this. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Getting and Remaining out of Crisis Mode

Jack Bragen
Thursday October 26, 2017 - 02:06:00 PM

There are some people who could be thought of as "crisis junkies." The addiction to crisis may not be uncommon. A crisis brings adrenaline, it revs you up, and it blocks out certain sets of emotions.

Fear seems to have ways of reinforcing itself, such that getting rid of it can be very difficult. But it is not impossible to be rid of fear.

In the Dune Trilogy, science fiction from the 1960's, there was a saying: "...Fear is the mind-killer..." Does fear interfere with cognition? Yes, it probably does. Fear convinces you that you need to be afraid. You've probably heard this one: "FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real." While this may not always hold true, we could be rid of many of our fears and still be just fine.

When in "crisis mode" we may neglect a number of things that should be done. This includes enjoying life. It includes doing those extra things that we could be doing to make our lives and the lives of others better. -more-

While we were distracted, look what the Republican-controlled Congress is doing

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday October 26, 2017 - 02:10:00 PM

While Americans are busy analyzing the Republican tax reform for the rich, protecting health care, demanding hurricane and fire relief, and the constant Trump tweets, these are the bills submitted by our Republican-controlled House of Representatives: -more-

Arts & Events

Korean National Gugak Center Creative Orchestra Performs Two Concerts of Works New & Ancient (Including New Works By UC Faculty)

Ken Bullock
Friday October 27, 2017 - 01:50:00 PM

With Parade and Symposium Saturday Afternoon & Evening on UC Campus

The Korean National Gugak Center Creative orchestra, a 55-member group charged with preserving the ancient musical traditions of its native land as well as developing contemporary works for performance, will display both facets of its repertoire this Saturday, October 28, with two Zellerbach Hall (UC campus) concerts at 3 and 8, a roundtable with the composers and the orchestra director at 1 at the Alumni House near Zellerbach Hall--and a traditional Gilmori parade with native costumes and many percussion instruments culminating at Spieker Plaza by Zellerbach Hall, 7-7:45.

Saturday afternoon's concert will feature world premieres of compositions specifically made for the Orchestra by Edmund Campion, UC-Berkeley Music department chair and director at the Center for New Music & Audio Tech (CNMAT) at UC-Berkeley; David Evan Jones of UC-Santa Cruz, Chinary Ung of UC-San Diego and Shih-Hui Chen, George Lewis and LEE Geon-yong. The roundtable at 1 at the International House will feature all six composers and Gugak Center Orchestra director PARK Chi-wan, with UC-Santa Cruz Professor Hi Kyung Kim presiding. -more-

26th Annual Video & Film Festival at the East Bay Media Center, Two Weekends: October 27, 28, 29 & November 3, 4, 5--Including Alice Walker in Person

Ken Bullock
Friday October 27, 2017 - 01:44:00 PM

The East Bay Media Center, 1939 Addison between Milvia and MLK, is hosting the 26th Annual Berkeley Video & Film Festival (BVFF) this weekend and next, October 27-29 and November 3-5, featuring over 45 independent films, including animation, documentaries, features and short features from around the world as well as 47 short subjects from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts 2017 First Look Festival. -more-