The Week



DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Nuclear War: A Thousand Buttons

Conn Hallinan
Saturday January 20, 2018 - 03:58:00 PM

When President Donald Trump bragged that his nuclear “button” was bigger and more efficient than North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s “button,” he was perpetuating the myth that the leaders of nuclear-armed nations control their weapons. But you do not have to be Trump, Kim, Vladimir Putin, Theresa May, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, Mamnoon Hussain, or Benjamin Netanyahu to push that “button.” There are thousands of buttons and thousands of people who can initiate a nuclear war.

Indeed, the very nature of nuclear weapons requires that the power to use them is decentralized and dispersed. And while it is sobering to think of leaders like Kim and Trump with their finger on the trigger, a nuclear war is far more likely to be started by some anonymous captain in an Ohio-class submarine patrolling the Pacific or a Pakistani colonel on the Indian border.

In his book ”The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” Daniel Ellsberg says that the recent uproar over Trump’s threats to visit “fire and fury” on North Korea misses the point that “every president has delegated” the authority to use nuclear weapons. “The idea that the president is the only one with the sole power to issue an order that will be recognized as an authentic authorized order is totally false,” he told National Public Radio. -more-

More Sidewalk Rules Versus Common Sense

Carol Denney
Wednesday January 24, 2018 - 03:42:00 PM
First They Came for the Homeless's lawsuit survived a legal challenge and is being allowed to broaden its complaint against the City of Berkeley by U.S. District Judge William Alsup

It's happening now in Berkeley. A funny, clunky, three-leg legislation race about poverty on a collision course. -more-

Flash: Judge Allows Some Claims in Berkeley Homeless Lawsuit, Dismisses BART as Defendant

Julia Cheever (BCN)
Monday January 22, 2018 - 12:11:00 PM

A federal judge in San Francisco has turned down a request by the city of Berkeley for dismissal of a civil rights lawsuit filed by a group of homeless people.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup said two members of the group called First They Came for the Homeless could pursue claims that the city violated their due process and free speech rights during evictions from municipal land. -more-

We need a just society!

Romila Khanna
Monday January 22, 2018 - 02:21:00 PM

Our legislators get their pay in time while poverty stricken citizens worry whether they can scrape together enough to feed their families. The legislators forget they were sent to Washington to fix the broken economic system, the immigration policy, employment, education and healthcare. They were not sent to Washington to enjoy the good life. The legislators must solve the problems of an economy where the rich get richer and the poor become poorer. Access of the very poor to schools and colleges gives them a ladder on which to climb from poverty into the middle class. Assurance of continued healthcare and social security gives our poor elders the safety net they need to live in dignity. -more-

SQUEAKY WHEEL: Shelter with Care

Toni Mester
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 08:02:00 PM
2527 San Pablo Avenue

The appeal of the first six-story apartment building on San Pablo Avenue will be heard at the City Council meeting on Tuesday January 23, which starts at 6 pm; it’s the first item on the action calendar. The project is a 63-unit density bonus venture designed and sponsored by Rony Rolnizky, the architect of Hillside Village at 1797 and 1801 Shattuck Avenue and 3001 Telegraph Avenue, across from Whole Foods. In many ways, this is “just an apartment building” to quote the applicant, but he has added a twist in requesting that the 12 below market rate units (BMRs) – six for very low income and six for low income – be set aside for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DDs) and has requested a waiver of the City’s Section 8 and Shelter+Care requirements: 40% of the six very low income (VLI) apartments for each category. In this case, that would amount to 2 Section 8 and 2 Shelter+Care units. -more-

Tens of Thousands March in Bay Area

Keith Burbank/Janis Mara(BCN)
Saturday January 20, 2018 - 08:07:00 PM

About 65,000 people or more marched in San Francisco this afternoon in the 2018 Women's March to draw women to political action, organizers said. -more-

Peaceful Oakland Women's March Estimated at 50,000

Janis Mara (BCN)
Saturday January 20, 2018 - 04:44:00 PM

Oakland police said the Women's March that took place in downtown Oakland today drew an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 attendees and took place peacefully. -more-

John 0liver Simon

J.D. Moyer
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 11:49:00 AM

John Oliver Simon, one of the Bay Area’s most beloved poets, died in the early hours of January 16th, from cancer, in the home of his fiancée Susie Kepner. He is survived by daughters Kia Simon and Lorelei Bosserman, son-in-law J.D. Moyer, granddaughter Tesla Rose Moyer, and former wives Pam Simon Hazel, Alta, and Jan Courtright Simon. He was 75. -more-


Public Comment

Open Letter to the Berkeley City Council
Re: the "Activation of BART Plaza"

Carol Denney
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 11:15:00 AM

I have concerns about the January 23rd plan to allow the Downtown Berkeley Association to "implement arts and cultural programming" at BART Plaza given its past record.

The Downtown Berkeley Association began its history trying to outlaw panhandling, helping create ordinances that targeted the poor, violated the constitution, and were overturned by the courts. Their mission of driving the poor out of shared space has never changed. We've had to battle anti-sitting laws, laws designed to target people with more than two square feet of belongings all with the same purpose: to make life as difficult as possible for the most vulnerable among us.

They allowed posters in BART Plaza created by the city, but threatened with arrest anyone who posted a flier from any other source, claiming in writing that the First Amendment only applied to the government. They violated campaign finance laws in their wholehearted effort to target the people they have unilaterally decided should not be allowed to enjoy the benefits of public space downtown.

This is the same Downtown Berkeley Association which ignores Public Record Act requests, which trains Green Shirt Block by Block "ambassadors" who then seem to think it is their job to assault homeless people on camera for exercising their constitutional right to rest. Their advertisement of downtown businesses is highly selective - some are celebrated while others are ignored - and there is no oversight or complaint system as was promised when our current mayor was campaigning. -more-

We Can Defeat Homelessness

Harry Brill
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 11:07:00 AM

Among the grim statistics is the growing numbers of homeless people, which has climbed to about 600,000. Twenty percent of the homeless reside in California. Among the major causes are unemployment, skyrocketing rents, mortgage foreclosures, and a costly medical crisis. Indeed, if a financial crisis occurs, most families discover that they had been living on the edge. Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69 percent) have less than $1,000 in their savings account. If they are unable to meet their financial obligations, individuals and families risk eviction and losing their homes. -more-

Another Opinion on Stop Signs

Chris Gilbert
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 11:48:00 AM

The campaign to install more stop signs may be misguided, according to recent research and on-the-ground experience in Europe. -more-

Trump Sinks into the Gutter

Jagjit Singh
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 11:31:00 AM

Trump’s latest disgusting racist comments disparaging Haiti and Africa as s-holes, preferring immigration of white Norwegians has sent shockwaves throughout the world. This is also an appalling reflection on Republican enablers and Trump supporters who continue to remain silent. It is shocking that there were enough Americans who ignored Trump’s narcissism, racism, misogyny and mental instability who were willing to elect him and continue to support him. This is the man who falsely claimed he would spend all his time in the White House but has spent 33% of his time on his properties at huge cost to the US taxpayer. -more-

Please Comment on Berkeley Surveillance Ordinance Proposal

James McFadden
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 11:34:00 AM

If you care about the direction the country is going towards a surveillance state (aka Snowden), then please make a comment on Berkeley Considers supporting the proposed Berkeley Surveillance Ordinance. You can do this anonymously. -more-

Meaningless Homeowners Exemption

Paul M. Schwartz, attorney at law
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 11:25:00 AM

With the recent skewering of high tax states by the federal government, the state government needs to step in and provide California homeowners property tax relief by restoring a meaningful homeowners exemption. Since we homeowners in California are now limited to a $10,000 property tax deduction on our federal taxes, it is time for the state legislators and the governor to restore us a state benefit that has been inflated away. -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Obsessive Gratification Systems and Ensuing Disasters

Jack Bragen
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 11:27:00 AM

Becoming symptomatic due to unfulfilled gratification systems is a scenario out of many in which persons with mental illness can become unstable. There are numerous paths to becoming acutely ill, and what I am about to describe is only one of them. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: The Politics of Sustainability

Bob Burnett
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 11:02:00 AM

As Democrats embark on a ten-month campaign to take back Congress, it's clear they need a unifying message. Because Republicans are defined by Trump, Dems could unite on the theme, "lock him up." While satisfying, this slogan doesn't capture the depravity of Trump's reign or the fact that Republicans have sold their souls uniting behind him. A better solution for Democrats would be to focus on sustainability. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT:U.S Government Shut Down — Dreamers Left Dangling

Ralph E. Stone
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 07:59:00 PM

At 11:59:59 on Friday, January 19, 2018, the U.S. government funding went dry and the government shut down. Today, Saturday, January 20, both the House and Senate are caucusing to try pass a continuing resolution to "kick the can down the road" until February or pass legislation to help the "Dreamers." The prospects for both are uncertain. -more-

Arts & Events

Island City Opera’s Rimsky-Korsakov Double-Bill

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 08:12:00 PM

At the Alameda Elks Club, Island City Opera presents two one-act operas by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov – Mozart and Salieri, set to a play by Alexander Pushkin, and Kashchey, the Immortal, based on a Russian fairy tale. This double-bill opened on January 19 and concludes with performances on January 26 & 28. I caught the Sunday matinee on January 21.

Let me say straightaway that I consider myself lucky to have attended the January 21 performance, for that was the only date when the role of Kashcheyevna, the wizard’s daughter in Kashchey, the Immortal, was sung by German mezzo-soprano Katja Heuzeroth. I have always appreciated Silvie Jensen, who sings all the other performances of this role, whenever I’ve heard her. However, Katja Heuzeroth was absolutely sensational. Her voice was sumptuous, sensuous, and rapturous. According to the program notes, she made her professional debut at Bayreuth in Wagnerian roles, which I’m sure she sang beautifully. The big question is where can we in the Bay Area hear Katja Heuzeroth in any role she wishes to sing? I’d go anywhere to hear her; and I hope to have many opportunities to do so if, as the program notes seem to indicate, she now is locally based. -more-

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar
January 21 – January 28

Kelly Hammargren
Sunday January 21, 2018 - 11:52:00 AM

The coming week January 21 – January 28 is packed with City meetings. The week starts with the affordable housing update Sunday. Monday is Zero Waste Commission, Commission Chair Alfred Twu is running against Council member Lori Droste for District 8. City Council is Tuesday with Porta Potties, Surveillance and Significant Community Benefits on the Agenda. Wednesday the Disaster and Fire Safety Commission will be making a recommendation on Urban Shield. The same evening the Police Review Commission meets. The week finishes Thursday when ZAB will be reviewing the Final Environmental Impact Report for 2190 Shattuck Ave, the building that will block the view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Campanile Way. -more-

"Sign My Name to Freedom"
A New Book by Betty Reid Soskin

Sunday January 21, 2018 - 08:20:00 PM

In Betty Reid Soskin’s 96 years of living, she has been a witness to a grand sweep of American history. When she was born in 1921, the lynching of African Americans was a national epidemic, blackface minstrel shows that both mocked and denigrated black music were the most popular American form of entertainment, white women had only just won the right to vote in American elections through the 19th Amendment passed the year before, and most African Americans in the Deep South could not vote at all. From her great-grandmother, who had been enslaved until she was in her mid-20s, Betty heard stories of slavery and the times of terror and deep difficulties for Black Folk that followed. In her lifetime, Betty watched the nation begin to confront its race and gender biases when forced to come together over the Fascist and Nazi world threat of the World War II era, saw those differences nearly break apart at the seams again in the upheavals of the civil rights and Black Power eras, saw the defeat of the Southern-led white segregationists following the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts and, finally, lived long enough to witness both the election of an African American president and the re-emergence of a militant, racist far right that rose up out of the ashes of the old segregationists. -more-