The Week



ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Safeway Grocery Delivery is Potential Help for Disabled People

Jack Bragen
Thursday November 30, 2017 - 03:50:00 PM

Going to a grocery store is an experience I am barely able to tolerate, if at all. When I was nineteen and working for a janitorial service, cleaning and polishing supermarket floors, I was almost killed, when two gunmen held me captive (for about ten hours) overnight and robbed the store in the morning upon the arrival of the manager who could open the safe. That was more than thirty years ago and I am not certain of whether or not it explains my dislike of supermarkets. -more-

"It's Not a Guns Issue. It's a Mental Health Issue." But What If It's Both?

Gar Smith
Thursday November 30, 2017 - 03:44:00 PM

On Sunday, November 5, 2017, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire on a church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people. The victims ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old. Responding to yet another mass-killing in the US, President Donald Trump quickly moved to deflect growing public concern by claiming: "This isn't a gun situation. This is a mental health problem at the highest level." (Try to imagine a politician responding to the Boston Marathon bombing by proclaiming: "This isn't a bomb situation. It's a mental health problem.") -more-

New: Turkeys in the White House

Tom H. Hastings
Thursday November 30, 2017 - 03:40:00 PM

Satire in the Time of Trump is becoming really tricky. Just when a satirist believes s/he has the kernel of a silly or outrageous extrapolative idea, this administration jumps in front of it and even outdoes it. From Saturday Night Live to stand-up comics to the Onion to Andy Borowitz, it’s getting dicier by the day. -more-

New: ECLECTIC RANT: Syrian war winding down — what’s next?

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday November 30, 2017 - 03:34:00 PM

On November 22, 2017, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin won the backing of Turkey and Iran to host a Syrian peace congress in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi. The Sochi announcement also came a few days after Putin met with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, an indication that Assad had agreed to the idea. -more-

Sheltering Homeless This Winter

Thomas Lord
Tuesday November 28, 2017 - 12:57:00 PM

Some letters people are sending to the Berkeley City Council say, in part: -more-

Use BUSD site for Berkeley City Council Meetings

Linda Franklin
Tuesday November 28, 2017 - 12:56:00 PM

I write to express firm opposition to the proposal that the City Council move its meetings to the former Premier Cru building, purchased by the previous council to provide emergency housing for Berkeley’s large homeless population. I think it would be a sad mistake to use even a part of this much-needed space for the entirely different purpose of city council meetings, even on a short-term basis. Berkeley voters made clear at the last election our concern that the council devise effective ways to house the homeless, especially over the winter. To spend a significant amount of money instead on constructing and fitting out a council meeting chamber would be a waste of money and an insult to the homeless and to all those of us who want our taxes used to provide housing for them. -more-

Berkeley City Council's Closed Session On Monday to Consider BUSD Contract for Council Chambers instead of $1.76 Million Remodel which would be a Bad Deal for Berkeley

Kelly Hammargren
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 02:26:00 PM

Berkeley City Council – Closed Session, Monday, Nov 27, 4:00 pm, 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, agenda: City Council negotiations with BUSD School Board regarding use of 1231 Addison, BUSD Board Room, public comment allowed on agenda item only

Late into the night on November 14, 2017 after Susan Wengraf, Cheryl Davila and nearly every community member had left, Mr. Herrington, Director of Public Works, presented plans to spend an estimated $1,760,000 to remodel 1011 University (Formerly Premier Cru) for City Council meetings.

The City Council voted on the 14th to make one last ditch effort to work with the Berkeley Unified School District School Board (BUSD) to reach a price and terms to use the BUSD Board room at 1231 Addison Street for City Council meetings. Those negotiations will take place in a closed session Monday, November 27, 2017, 4:00 pm at 2180 Milvia Street Cypress Room with Dee Williams-Ridley, Jovan Grogan and Mark Numainville as the negotiators for the City. Public comment can be made before the closed session begins.

There is so much wrong with the proposal to remodel 1011 University for City Council Chambers that it has a stench about it that deepens as each layer is peeled away. Just for starters: -more-

Kale, Kale, Why So Much Kale, ( to the tune of Glorious Ale)

Carol Denney
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 03:50:00 PM


I went to a potluck in Berkeley one day

the tables all flowing with sumptuous display

but when I looked closer I gasped and grew pale

the casserole dishes were all filled with kale

Chorus: kale, kale, why so much kale

some farmers market must have had a sale

I'll eat radiccio, I'll try a snail

but let's have some boundaries

its constance confounds me

before every foundry makes statues of kale -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

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Public Comment

Wiping the stain of capital punishment clean

Stephen Cooper
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 05:43:00 PM

Soon the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a case with the potential to end this nation’s abominably long and freakish experimentation with the death penalty. That’s right, drum roll, please. Because, if it grants certiorari in Hidalgo v. Arizona – a case Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe describes as emblematic of “the problems with our [country’s] current capital punishment regimes” – America’s broken and vile ‘machinery of death’ can finally be trashed in the junkyard of our dark, wayward humanity. -more-

Wiping the stain of capital punishment clean

Stephen Cooper
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 05:43:00 PM

Soon the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a case with the potential to end this nation’s abominably long and freakish experimentation with the death penalty. That’s right, drum roll, please. Because, if it grants certiorari in Hidalgo v. Arizona – a case Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe describes as emblematic of “the problems with our [country’s] current capital punishment regimes” – America’s broken and vile ‘machinery of death’ can finally be trashed in the junkyard of our dark, wayward humanity. -more-

60 Minutes Misses US Role in Yemen Crisis

Tejinder Uberoi
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 05:03:00 PM

60 Minutes is to be congratulated for focusing much needed attention on the plight of civilians in war torn Yemen. But was glaringly omitted in its segment was the role of the US/UK in creating the humanitarian crisis. -more-

Israel declares war with AIUSA

Jagjit Singh
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 03:48:00 PM

Last Thursday the New York Times published a moving, tragic story of a Palestinian, Raed Jarrarov, who was denied entry into Israel to bury his father. -more-

Save Net Neutrality

Ryan Duncan
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 05:47:00 PM

On December 14, the FCC will vote to roll back current Net Neutrality protections, including Title ii oversight over Internet Service Providers (ISPs.) This will not only allow ISPs more leeway in raising their prices, but it will also – and more troublingly – allow them to control your access to content on the internet. It will be at their discretion to decide which websites are available, which streaming services load faster or slower, and which news sources they will allow you to see. In effect, this will be the end of the free and open internet we have become accustomed to. -more-

Free Speech for ALL?

Gene Bernardi, SuperBOLD (Berkeleyans Organizing for Liberty Defense)
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 04:23:00 PM

Chemerinsky, Dean of UCB Law School, as well as Chancellor Carol Christ, have violated Dean Chemerinsky’s admonishment that, as said by Oliver Wendell Holmes, the best remedy for the speech that we don’t like is more speech. -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Some Useful Self-Assessments

Jack Bragen
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 04:20:00 PM

If you drive an automobile under the influence of medication, and/or fatigue, this can create a lot of trouble for you. It is a separate offense from the improper use of a controlled substance. You could be taking prescribed medication, yet, if it can be shown that it impairs your driving, you could still be in for a lot of trouble. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Ten Reasons to be Thankful

Bob Burnett
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 04:09:00 PM

Even though we're struggling through the darkness of Trump Year One, Americans have much to be thankful for. Here are ten political reasons to give thanks. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Voodoo economics is back

Ralph E. Stone
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 04:16:00 PM

On November 16, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a tax overhaul bill.

The U.S. Senate has their own bill. The Senate Finance Committee approved a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul proposal after four days of markup. The vote was 14-12, along party lines. Earlier, Senate Republicans added a controversial provision to the bill, repealing the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, to help raise revenues for tax cuts, which would result in 13 million fewer Americans being covered by health insurance.

With a straight face, House Speaker Paul Ryan said of the House tax overhaul: "And you can’t escape the fact that people own businesses, and if you’re lowering the tax on those businesses, you’re lowering the tax on those [individual] people. But that’s the whole point of all of this and that’s where I think this sort of left-wing rhetoric misses the point, which is: Do you want American businesses to grow and thrive and stay in America and to be competitive, or not? And that is really the simple question.”

The overhaul is nothing more than supply-side economics long favored by Republicans whereby tax cuts to top earners are said to result in more business investment. Lowering taxes for the wealthy and large corporations, the theory goes, fuels a benevolent cycle that ultimately leads to higher wages and a stronger economy. This was pejoratively called the "trickle down" theory under the Reagan administration or "voodoo economic economic policy" as former President George H.W. Bush called it. -more-

Arts & Events

Updated: Lianna Haroutounian’s Sparkling Recital at Herbst Theatre

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 02:57:00 PM

Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian, who recently took local audiences by storm at San Francisco Opera in the title-roles in Puccini’s Tosca (2014) and Madama Butterfly (2016), returned to San Francisco for her first USA solo recital on Saturday afternoon, November 25, at Herbst Theatre. Presented by Friends of Lianna Recital Committee, this program brought together not only friends and admirers of Lianna Haroutounian but also a large proportion of our Bay Area Armenian community. It felt like, in many ways, a family occasion, all the more appropriate coming as it did over the Thanksgiving weekend when families gather together. Our local Armenian community gave Lianna Haroutounian a very warm and admiring welcome. -more-

GIRLS OF THE GOLDEN WEST: Another Half-Cooked Turkey from John Adams

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 02:05:00 PM

Two days before Thanksgiving, San Francisco Opera unveiled the world premiere of Girls of the Golden West, the new opera by John Adams it commissioned in partnership with Dallas Opera and Dutch National Opera. Whatever one’s expectations might have been, Girls of the Golden West turned out to be a real turkey, a half-cooked one at that. I caught the second performance of this turkey on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and black indeed was my mood after sitting through three and a half hours of this bloated, self-indulgent opera from a composer who merely recycled all his familiar—and often irritating -- musical tics. Bouncy propulsive rhythms repeated endlessly in minimalist fashion and overly percussive orchestration get old fast. -more-

Updated: Overview: Why I Find John Adams’ Operas Half-Cooked

James Roy MacBean
Friday December 01, 2017 - 04:54:00 PM

In reviewing a few days ago the latest opera by John Adams, I headlined my review, “Girls of the Golden West: Another Half-Cooked Turkey by John Adams.” It occurred to me, however, that in reviewing a disjointed opera that went on for nearly three and a half hours, I might well describe it as over-cooked rather than half-cooked. Nonetheless, I decided that “half-cooked” was a more apt characterization of John Adams’ operas. In the present article I’ll delineate why so many of the works by John Adams, especially his operas, seem to me half-cooked. -more-

The Berkeley Activist's Week:
Nov 26 - Dec 3

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 01:47:00 PM

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am back on track with a new modem/router and functioning wifi - that is until the FCC takes away Net Neutrality with the expected vote on December 22. There will be a national day of demonstrations for Net Neutrality on Thursday, December 7.

The December 5, Berkeley City Council Agenda is now available for review and response. Agenda key items:

  • Item 15. 2nd dwelling unit/ADU for homeless,
  • Item 23. Surveillance Technology Ordinance.
  • Item 25. Significant Community Benefits

Day by Day, 11/26 - 12/3: