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Twice at the Berkeley City Council public hearing on the appeal of the development at 2190 Shattuck, groups of students, including several ASUC officers, smiled and posed for selfies in front of the council dais, displaying their 'Fuck a View' slogan facing supporters of the appeal.
Twice at the Berkeley City Council public hearing on the appeal of the development at 2190 Shattuck, groups of students, including several ASUC officers, smiled and posed for selfies in front of the council dais, displaying their 'Fuck a View' slogan facing supporters of the appeal.


An Open Letter to the Associated Students of the University of California

Carol Denney
Tuesday February 05, 2019 - 09:40:00 PM

Dear ASUC officers and senators,

I am a UC alumna who went to school at UC Berkeley in the 1970s. I've worked for years in the Bay Area on public health, public art, and public music projects, and I've been part of public service groups working mostly as a volunteer on historical projects intended to protect and preserve the living connection between our contemporary experiences and our history.

I'm writing to express my horror at the short-sighted, selfish presentations that apparently ASUC senators and student officers felt inspired to make on behalf of the building project at 2190 Shattuck, which will block the view corridor between the UC Berkeley Campanile and the mouth of the Golden Gate, a distinctive geographical feature legendary long before the Golden Gate Bridge was built. "Fuck the view" is one of several signs these student leaders were apparently inspired to use to illustrate their callous lack of interest in a federally protected landmark, a campus feature beloved by visitors and alumni which is also threaded through hundreds of years of sailing history because of the unique, dramatic geography of what is now known as the San Francisco Bay. 

The false dichotomy between housing availability and this view was, I thought, too obvious to be embraced by anyone who was accepted to UC Berkeley, but apparently escaped these students, who are pictured in the Berkeley Daily Planet smiling at their success in helping destroy something it took hundred of years, and thousands of students, historians, and architects to preserve for the generations to come up to this moment in time. 

UC Berkeley owns 10 acres at Smythe-Fernwald, and another 130 acres at Clark Kerr which it could use to address not only all UC Berkeley students' pressing housing needs but the rest of the town's and the faculty's as well. A truly informed student body would be pressing the university to do just that rather than destroy beloved local landmarks - especially on behalf of market-rate housing they will never be able to afford. 

One can only hope that it will dawn on them someday that their greatest accomplishment as UC Berkeley students was to destroy what others spent hundreds of years honoring, respecting, celebrating in paintings, plays, and songs, and working countless hours to preserve. Someday that leering photo with their profane signs will be used to deny them the jobs and promotions which rightly belong to more thoughtful, respectful people.

Climate note #1: "The push for zero"

Thomas Lord
Tuesday February 05, 2019 - 09:32:00 PM

Climate change is a complex problem, with many aspects. It is hard to wrap one's head around. Anyone who tells you they understand the problem thoroughly, is almost certainly not correct. 

To tame this complexity, scientists sometimes look for simple facts that characterize the big picture. One example is this: 

If humans are to avoid a massive die-off - and even steer well clear of possible human extinction - then within a single single human lifetime, net global carbon emissions from human activity must reach 0, and then go below 0. 

Within a very few decades, at most, we must not only stop adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere - we must be removing large amounts of them every year. At present, we continue to increase the amount of greenhouse gas we emit each year. We have no ready-made plans to fix this. There is no known political plan for fixing this. 

There is, among scientists no substantial controversy at all about these statements. The IPCC's1 extensive surveys of climate change science assign "high confidence" to statements of this sort. It is the scientific consensus, as best we know it.Already, this is inherently mind-blowing. Human emissions have been steeply on the rise since the 1830s, when coal-fueled steam power began to displace water power as the energy source for industrial production. Today, the rate of carbon emissions continues to grow with every dollar of economic growth. We are a society that thrives by consuming ever greater amounts of power, and have no systems that produce that power in adequate quantities without adding to carbon emissions. Nevertheless, scientists are telling us well within a single human lifetime, we must 

About this series 

This is the first in a series of very short discussions of climate change, meant to be easily understood by a wide audience. 

Please let me know if you spot errors, or have suggestions or questions. I will do my best to improve the notes and to issue corrections as necessary. I can be contacted at lord@basiscraft.com. Please put "climate:" at the beginning of the subject line. 

Planned topics 

The tentative plan for this series of notes is: 

  • Climate note #1: "The push for zero"
The gravity of the situation. 


  • Climate note #2: "The carbon budget"
The scarcity of resources to solve the problem. 

  • Climate note #3: "How soon until zero?"
The urgency of successful action. 

  • Climate note #4: "Mass die-offs? Extinction? Really?!?"
The importance of acting. 

  • Climate note #5: "Your lifestyle or your life - physical and economic limits"
The sacrifice required (no sugar-coating). 

  • Climate note #6: "Can't we just make our infrastructure green?"
The denialism popularized by progressive politics. 

  • Climate note #6: "What is to be done?"
How to act wisely, together, in solidarity

  • Climate note #7: "Can't green urbanism fix this?"
The tragedy inherent in current policies in the City of Berkeley. 

  • Climate note #8: "The genocide problem."
Are we monsters

  • Climate note #9: "Simple plans of action."
A little courage is all we need to act. 

  • Climate note #10: "Rejoice."
A personal reflection. 



  1. The International Panel on Climate Change convened by the United Nations. Their most recent report (SR-15) discusses the increases in mass mortality we will see with only an additional .5°C increase in global warming - as well as how much worse it will be a an increase of 1°C from current conditions.↩



Updated: Blowing It Up Bigtime: Dispute Escalates Beyond Reason, with Help from the Berkeley Police

Becky O'Malley
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 05:25:00 PM

Note: This first appeared on Friday in the previous issue, but has been updated for this one.

On Tuesday I received one of the increasingly frequent press releases that the Berkeley Police Department has been sending out. Many if not most are trivial feel-good PR: “Coffee with a Cop” and the like, so I tend not to read them. But from time to time these press releases are entitled “Cases of Community Interest” and I do check those out.

Most of the time, they amount to nothing more than a laundry list of unsubstantiated allegations, though some do result in charges by the District Attorney’s office and once in a while even convictions.

This one caught my eye on Tuesday: January 26th at 4:31 pm, a resident was inside his home on the 2600 block of Sacramento Street when he was startled by the sound of something thrown at his front door. When the resident went to investigate, he saw that there was a package at his door. Seeing the postal carrier now across the street, the resident walked over and asked the postal carrier not to throw his packages. The postal carrier responded by cursing and threatening the resident, who ran back to his home and called 911.Officers located the postal carrier (Lamonte Travoy Earnest, Male, 44 years old, Berkeley, CA) a block away and arrested him on suspicion of making criminal threats as well as an outstanding arrest warrant for animal cruelty.”

LaMonte Earnest, the disputant named in this BPD press release, is a family friend, and I was pretty sure that there was something wrong with this picture.

Let’s just deconstruct this police account, shall we? 

“a resident was inside his home on the 2600 block of Sacramento Street when he was startled by the sound of something thrown at his front door. When the resident went to investigate, he saw that there was a package at his door. Seeing the postal carrier now across the street, the resident walked over and asked the postal carrier not to throw his packages.” 

Already, this seems to be the kind of classic “he said, she said” account beloved of law school professors trying to teach students how to evaluate evidence. Two participants in a dispute give conflicting accounts, and there’s no third party to say which one is telling the truth. What actually happened? 

How do we know whether the package was actually thrown, or if the resident was simply startled out of a nap by the package being dropped on the porch? What did the postal carrier say about what happened? If the package was actually thrown, was the porch easily accessible, or was there some impediment? 

The postal carrier responded by cursing and threatening the resident, who ran back to his home and called 911.  

Says who? Shouldn’t it say instead “the resident claimed that the postal carrier …..” 

Cursing and threatening”? As we know, there are all kinds of curse words, and the First Amendment protects our right to use most of them most of the time. What exactly did the resident allege was said? 

“Seeing the postal carrier now across the street, the resident walked over and asked the postal carrier not to throw his packages.” This sounds to me like the resident provoked a confrontation as the postal carrier was walking away. Did he ask politely or was his request couched in provocative language? 

While inside his home calling 911, the postal carrier entered the residence and started recording him with his cell phone—threatening that he now knows who he is.” 

This sentence is very hard to understand because it’s grammatically challenged, but the writer seems to be saying that the postal worker forced his way into the resident’s house. Really? 

If he’d done that, shouldn’t he have been charged with some more serious crime, like trespassing or assault or burglary or something? 

Officers located the postal carrier (Lamonte Travoy Earnest, Male, 44 years old, Berkeley, CA) a block away and arrested him on suspicion of making criminal threats … 

Here’s a good little primer on the “crime” of making criminal threats: 


A pertinent warning from this site: 



“Because there is no requirement that the victim suffers any physical injury, criminal threats is a crime which is ripe for false accusations. Anyone who is angry, jealous, vengeful, spiteful or trying to escape his/her own criminal liability could easily falsely accuse another person of this serious crime. This is especially true when the accusation is of a verbal threat, with no written or electronic recording.”  



Remember, no witnesses, no recording. Why should the resident be believedl? 



And how about this? “ …an outstanding arrest warrant for animal cruelty.” 

Postpersons and dogs: traditional adversaries. We have a fluffy little yellow rescue dog who devoted years of his life to waiting for the postal worker to show up every day so he could defend the house by furious barking. Cute, but if he were instead one of those pit bull mixes beloved of paranoid residents, postal workers would be justifiably afraid of him. The USPD gives employees a spray canister to use in such situations, which might look cruel to the dog owner, who might well file charges. 

And in fact, that’s exactly what LaMonte Earnest says happened. Three years ago he sprayed a dog which attacked him while he was delivering mail in San Mateo. The dog’s owner, a policeman, managed to get a warrant issued for LaMonte's arrest which he’d never heard about until the Berkeley police pulled it out of a computer when they detained him on Tuesday. 

Yes, reader, I actually called LaMonte and asked him about the report. Not only that, I talked to his wife, criminal defense attorney Kate Hallinan. [Full disclosure: she’s the niece of Planet columnist Conn Hallinan and the granddaughter of my friend, Berkeley Arts Festival founder Bonnie Hughes.] 

As it happened, Kate and LaMonte were in the process of putting together a press release giving his side of the story. We’ve reprinted it here in full, clearly labelled as such. 

Why did they have to issue a press release denying the charges? Because a local “news source”, whatever that might mean, had published the police press release as part of an article, to which they added LaMonte’s booking photo, which shows clearly that he is, yes,African-American. (Why are we not surprised?) 

And now we come to our main beef with this story as it’s been reported. It is accepted good journalistic practice to clearly label accusations as such. Here’s the story as written by experienced reporter Jeff Shuttleworth for rock solid Bay City News, to which we subscribe: 



A postal carrier has been arrested on suspicion of making criminal 

threats for allegedly threatening a Berkeley man who complained when a 

package was thrown at his door, police said. 

The man was inside his home in the 2600 block of Sacramento Street 

at about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday when he was startled by the sound of something 

thrown at his front door, according to police. 

When the resident went to investigate, he saw that there was a 

package at his door, police said. 

The man also noticed that the postal carrier was across the street 

so he walked over and asked the carrier not to throw his packages, according 

to police. 

But the postal carrier responded by cursing and threatening the 

man, who ran back to his home and called 911, police said. 

While the man was inside his home calling 911, the postal carrier 

entered the residence and started recording him with his cellphone and 

threatened the man by stating that he now knew who he was, according to 


Officers located the postal carrier, who was identified as 

44-year-old Lamonte Travoy Earnest of Berkeley, a block away and arrested him 

on suspicion of making criminal threats as well as an outstanding warrant for 

animal cruelty, police said. 


Note Shuttleworth's liberal use of qualifiers like “allegedly”..”police said”…”according to police”….etc. 

That’s how real professionals do it. 

So I called Officer Byron White, BPD’s current public information officer, who sends out these releases. I asked why only one person was arrested in what seemed like a “he said, she said” two-person dispute with no impartial witnesses. He told me it was a “private person’s arrest”, that is to say a signed complaint made by one person against another. He said that in a case like this “we are legally bound to take him into custody”. 

I asked him what allegedly had been said which would constitute “making criminal threats.” He said that the accused suspect had called the other guy “a swear word” and said he knew where the guy lived. I told him I was an adult and could stand to hear the actual language. He said the postal worker called the resident a “motherfucker”. 

Of course that’s a word you can hear on any middle school playground any day of the week, and of course LaMonte knows where the resident identified as the victim lives because he is his mail carrier. Even if the accuser’s account is true this doesn’t seem to add up to much of a credible lthreat. And it probably isn’t true. Again, no witnesses or recording. 

I asked him why BPD had released LaMonte’s booking picture. He said a news organization had asked him for it, and if they asked BPD was legally required to give it out. 

Who asked for it? Berkeleyside.com, he said. 

He told me these press releases (formerly known as “the police blotter”) are a selection by the BPD of some of what’s been happening locally, not everything. 

One might question the judgment of whoever selected this particular item for BPD to publicize, but you can certainly question the professional judgment of any news organization which publishes unsubstantiated allegations like this, including LaMonte’s name and photo, without doing the minimal due diligence of getting both sides of what was clearly an argument between two annoyed individuals at worst. 

It seems highly unlikely that the Alameda County District Attorney will file any charges in this shaky case. If that happens, someone owes LaMonte and Kate an apology, at least. 



UPDATE: After I posted the above on Thursday, I obtained a copy of the resident’s 911 call from the Berkeley police. What I heard was a genuinely terrified man, who seemed to think that his mailman was coming to get him. From the context I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on, but I never heard him say “the postman is inside my house”. It sounded more like he was saying he was afraid that would happen. 




You be the judge. Here’s the recording:  


The resident’s name was included as part of the legal filings. Let’s just call him Mr. L. 

Today (Friday)I got his phone number from the internet and called him to ask for his side of the story. He did tell me clearly that he thought the mailman had come into his apartment through the front door which he’d tried unsuccessfully to slam shut, but when I pressed him on details and timing his answers were not precise. 

All this puts me in mind of the classic law school evidence class stunt, where the professor hires actors to enact a crime in front of the class and asks the students to recount what happened. Inevitably their stories are widely divergent—eyewitness testimony is amazingly unreliable. 

I’m willing to believe that both LaMonte Earnest and his customer Mr. L. are “telling the truth” as they see it. But this does make me wonder what prompted the Berkeley police to take custody of one and not the other. We should not discount the role of unacknowledged racial stereotyping in the BPD decision about whom to blame, or in prompting Mr. L.’s panicky 911 call. 

The BPD’s public information officer said the officers were simply taking custody of Earnest after the resident had arrested him. As it was explained to me, the police were acting according to a legal theory called “private person’s arrest”. This one’s new to me, but if you’re interested the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has posted a discussion of it on their web site  

So I asked Mr. L. if he remembered arresting Earnest himself. It didn’t seem to me that he understood or remembered what had happened with the police, or that he had intended to make a “private person’s arrest”.. 

He told me he was just very, very scared—sitting on the steps weeping when the police came, almost ready to wet his pants, he said, even though Earnest had moved on and was delivering mail elsewhere. The next day, he said, he had to go to the emergency room with another panic attack. 

Kate Hallinan told me that by the time she arrived on the scene there were five police cars there with attendant officers. Her husband was taken away in handcuffs about an hour later. 

So what really happened? We’ll never know. Mr. L assured me that he’s a very ordinary, dull, mild-mannered fellow, a software engineer raised Catholic whose hobby is studying theology. I believe him and feel sorry for him, but inadvertently he’s caused LaMonte and Kate a world of woe. 

Two guys in a stupid shouting match over nothing, and one panics and calls 911, even though there’s no proof he was actually in danger. Were five police cars needed to arrest the other one on “suspicion of making criminal threats? 

The more I learn about this situation the more I can’t help thinking that it represents a tremendous waste of public resources to handle it through the criminal justice system. 

Truthfully, I think the best outcome would be for them all to sit down together with a trained mediator and talk through what’s happened, instead of taking it to court. 

None of the three—Kate, LaMonte and Mr. L.—should harbor any long term ill will toward the others. 

Reconciliation is what’s called for, not legal revenge. How can civil society help them with that? 

I’d be happy to take them all out for coffee to talk it over. 














The Editor's Back Fence

Berkeley City Council Majority Votes with Developer Interests

Becky O'Malley
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 06:46:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council voted on Thursday night to deny the citizen appeal of permits for construction of another luxury apartment building, 18-stories with not a single Below Market Rate unit, on Shattuck avenue in the viewshed of the Golden Gate as seen from Campanile Plaza on the University of California campus. A claque of youths with printed signs saying "Fuck the View" were turned out on behalf of the developers, who were represented by Jason Overman, Mayor Jesse Arreguin's former roomate. (Arreguin did not recuse himself and voted for Overman's project.) Only three councilmembers, Kate Harrison, Sophie Hahn and Cheryl Davila, sided with the citizen appeal by abstaining from the vote.The other six voted with the developers.

For a good analysis of how more market rate development will NOT trickle down to students, see:

New MIT study suggests the Yimby narrative on housing is wrong

Public Comment

Berkeley Council: Your Vote for Permitting 2190 Shattuck Will Be a Detriment to Berkeley: No Affordable Units, Loss of Public View, Limited Benefits

Moni Law
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 09:35:00 PM

The majority vote of the Berkeley City Council Thursday night was disappointing. It was depressing. Many members of the community started to whisper as council deliberated, 'the fix is in,' but I thought the council would actually critique and analyze the record and realize the defective and legally flawed ZAB decision. I support building affordable housing in Berkeley. Last night's vote, however, will not result in one inch of affordable housing in this prime downtown location: near BART, the library, the post office and YMCA. A one-bedroom apartment at 2190 Shattuck Avenue will rent at $4,200 per month! And they are not rent controlled units, so upon renewal, the rent can increase without any limit. Most Cal students who live in new buildings downtown move out after the first year or break their leases early. Many Cal parents are shocked by the high rent increases, believing erroneously that all buildings are rent-controlled in Berkeley.

Sadly, our city leaders have bent over backwards to meet developers' demands instead of local community needs. Experts and a diverse set of Berkeley residents testified last night that the developers' proposal as approved by the Zoning Adjustment Board was legally flawed. Detriments were not considered, environmental standards are at the lowest level, community benefits were not significant, and affordability is non-existent..  

Dozens of Cal students spoke from the same "Talking Points" in support of the developer, yet the majority of Cal students will not be able to afford any of the 274 market rate units where Walgreen's now sits (unless 4-6 students squeeze into a 'microunit' or one bedroom. At the end of the meeting, students from my alma mater were celebrating their 'victory' with signs that said "FU--K the View."  

The developers are also misguided in this proposal which fails to meet the test of our city’s zoning and land use principles. It should have been remanded to ZAB. When they put in ‘affordable housing mitigation’ fees INSTEAD of Below Market Rate units on site, the developer is kicking the proverbial can down the road to fund affordable units somewhere else 3-10 years from now. We need BMR units now. UC Berkeley students need affordable housing built by the university also (at any or all of the six sites they own other than People's Park). There are long waiting lists and a high demand for BMR units currently for seniors, low income Cal students, people with disabilities who need elevators, working families displaced by Owner Move In evictions, and Berkeley's middle and working class workers (retail, teachers, artists, nonprofits) who cannot afford the market rate units in this project.  

This project also fails the inclusivity and diversity test, glorified gentrification with displacement. Berkeley,once a vibrant, culturally diverse community which considered the needs of all, is an expanding haven for expensive market rate units. 

I mentor Cal students who live in BMR units. I mentor housing and food insecure Cal students. This building will not make them more secure or house them. The ‘community benefits’ are inadequate (a community room not offered as free and lacking pre-confirmed standards and a Project Labor Agreement), the design is out of conformity with the neighborhood, and the 18 story building is substantially detrimental to a historic public view.  

They could build this project with two to three fewer floors, but refused to compromise. Further, the developers promised me at a hearing on this project that they would commit to BMR units on site. Broken promises. Our town needs affordable housing now! UC Berkeley students and staff and world-wide visitors will be deprived of a significant cultural resource (Campanille to SF Bay View Corridor).  

My sign would use a different four letter word, LOVE the view and Build Affordable Housing. You can and must do both! 

Dear Mayor and Council: 

Post -Script: The majority vote of the Berkeley City Council last night was disappointing. It was depressing. Many members of the community started to whisper as council deliberated, 'the fix is in,' but I thought the council would actually critique and analyze the record and realize the defective and legally flawed ZAB decision. I support building affordable housing in Berkeley. Last night's vote, however, will not result in one inch of affordable housing in this prime downtown location: near BART, the library, the post office and YMCA. A one-bedroom apartment at 2190 Shattuck Avenue will rent at $4,200 per month! And they are not rent controlled units, so upon renewal, the rent can increase without any limit. Most Cal students who live in new buildings downtown move out after the first year or break their leases early. Many Cal parents are shocked by the high rent increases, believing erroneously that all buildings are rent-controlled in Berkeley. 

Sadly, our city leaders have bent over backwards to meet developers demands instead of local community needs. Experts and a diverse set of Berkeley residents testified last night that the developers proposal as approved by ZAB was legally flawed, detriments were not considered, environmental standards are at the lowest level, community benefits were not significant, and affordability is non-existent.. Dozens of Cal students spoke from the same "Talking Points" in support of the developer, yet the majority of Cal students will not be able to afford any of the 274 market rate units where Walgren's now sits (unless 4-6 students squeeze into a 'microunit' or one bedroom.  

At the end of the meeting, students from my alma mater were celebrating their 'victory' with signs that said "FU--K the View." The developers are also misguided in this proposal which fails to meet the test of our city’s zoning and land use principles. It should have been remanded to ZAB. When they put in ‘affordable housing mitigation’ fees INSTEAD of Below Market Rate units on site, the developer is kicking the proverbial can down the road to fund affordable units somewhere else 3-10 years from now. We need BMR units now. UC Berkeley students need affordable housing built by the university also (at any or all of the six sites they own other than People's Park).There are long waiting lists and a high demand for BMR units currently for seniors, low income Cal students, people with disabilities who need elevators, working families displaced by Owner Move In evictions, and Berkeley's middle and working class workers (retail, teachers, artists, nonprofits) who cannot afford the market rate units in this project. This project also fails the inclusivity and diversity test, Glorified gentrification with displacement. Berkeley once a vibrant, culturally diverse community which considered the needs of all, is an expanding haven for expensive market rate units. 

I mentor Cal students who live in BMR units. I mentor housing and food insecure Cal students. This building will not make them more secure or house them. The ‘community benefits’ are inadequate (a community room not offered as free and lacking pre-confirmed standards and a Project Labor Agreement), the design is out of conformity with the neighborhood, and the 18 story building is substantially detrimental to a historic public view. They could build this project with two to three fewer floors, but refused to compromise. Further, the developers promised me at a hearing on this project that they would commit to BMR units on site. Broken promises. Our town needs affordable housing now! UC Berkeley students and staff and world-wide visitors will be deprived of a significant cultural resource (Campanille to SF Bay View Corridor).  

My sign would use a different four letter word, LOVE the view and Build Affordable Housing. You can and must do both! 


Moni T. Law, J.D. 

UC Berkeley, B.A.1982 

USF Law School, Juris Doctorate, 1986 

Washington State Bar License #16945 

Past ASUC Senator, Current Berkeley Resident 

A mother who wants to see a town that everyone can call home, and see the beauty of the Bay from my Alma Mater!

An Open Letter to a New Councilmember

Charlene M. Woodcock
Sunday February 03, 2019 - 11:01:00 AM
Twice at the Berkeley City Council public hearing on the appeal of the development at 2190 Shattuck, groups of students, including several ASUC officers, smiled and posed for selfies in front of the council dais, displaying their 'Fuck a View' slogan facing supporters of the appeal.
Twice at the Berkeley City Council public hearing on the appeal of the development at 2190 Shattuck, groups of students, including several ASUC officers, smiled and posed for selfies in front of the council dais, displaying their 'Fuck a View' slogan facing supporters of the appeal.

Dear Rigel Robinson,

I was hoping that the presence of a recently-graduated student on the council would contribute to more clarity about the consequences of ending federal housing programs, of providing tax cuts for the rich, and of the extravagant mining, transport, and burning of fossil fuels over the past 150 years.

So it was a great disappointment to see your failure to understand the basic economic issues around new large-scale building projects in Berkeley, especially 2190 Shattuck. You and the students you recruited simply served as tools for achieving greater profits for a private developer who has no interest in providing the housing Berkeley urgently needs. You voted to give him the public space above the site in the middle of the campus-to-Bay viewshed around which the campus design was oriented. And he will benefit financially by charging high rents for that view, far higher than most students can afford. It is not the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, as the ill-informed students thought; the Golden Gate is the landmark along California’s coast of the entrance into the San Francisco Bay. When more enlightened, less profit-driven people designed cities, they were often organized around a significant viewshed. Beautiful urban design and the importance of commons, shared public spaces, were once understood to contribute to the public good.

As I said in my comment, Reagan’s trickle-down theory of economics has served only to transfer more wealth from the middle class to the very rich. To imagine that building housing for the rich will somehow result in housing for students is delusional. Building more market rate projects in no way provides more affordable housing. Rather it helps to drive up rents across the city. It crowds out longtime Berkeley residents and brings in new, wealthier residents. The city Downtown Plan prohibits permitting new buildings that change the demographics of the downtown, so approving this project puts the city at odds with the Downtown Plan. The in-lieu fee is much too small to aid construction of affordable housing. The solution is for Berkeley to cease inviting for-profit, market-rate projects such as this and instead to find sites for inclusionary housing and engage non-profit developers to provide housing for students, families, and below-median-income workers. Who will house the people employed at minimum wage by those who can pay $5,000 a month rent for this building and for whom valuable space is allocated for their cars even though the project got LEED points for being next to BART?

Of course it should be the responsibility of the university to provide housing for the students it accepts, but instead the university hires ever more well-paid administrators who have little understanding of the mission of the university or the obligations it has to its students. Since 2011 UC Berkeley has employed more administrators than professors. Such misuse of our tax dollars should be the target of student organizing, not ill-informed demands on the city council.

There are no affordable units planned for the 2019 Shattuck project. The much-touted $15 million in-lieu fees is just a drop in the bucket for any future affordable housing project. It will not be paid until this project is completed, three years or more from now and over a period of several years then. A responsible city councilmember could have demanded that the building plan be revised to include at least 50% below-median-income units. It barely meets the obsolete LEED Gold energy efficiency standards, when Berkeley should be requiring zero-net energy of all future building projects. It is your generation that will be dealing with the careless waste of resources and destructive accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The city council is dealing with issues that affect future generations. Moni Law, who spoke out of her daily experience of trying to find housing for people in Berkeley, laid out the issues very clearly. You need to connect the dots.

An 18-story private building in downtown Berkeley that does not serve the needs and interests of Berkeley residents and taxpayers is unjustifiable at this stage of income disparity and the onrush of climate disruption. A huge building that will not house those who most need housing among our residents forced out by rising rents and that does not meet the most rigorous energy efficiency standards is not acceptable. We must do much better than that.

The Bogus War Against Illegal Drugs

Harry Brill
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 04:42:00 PM

The media recently reported that former Vice President Joe Biden expressed regret for supporting the drug crime laws because they have disproportionally and unfairly impacted African Americans. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that although 16 percent of those who sold drugs were blacks, they made up 49 percent who were arrested. Moreover, African Americans constituted 74 percent of those who went to prison just for possessing drugs. And they were much more likely to receive longer sentences.  

When Ronald Reagan became president, he pushed though legislation that added 29 new mandatory minimum sentences. That certainly limits the sentencing discretion of liberal judges. However, the federal courts have imposed prison sentences on black men that are almost 20 percent longer than those received by white men who had committed similar offenses. Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at an average rate that is 5 times more than white Americans. In some states, that rate is 10 times more. Moreover, in 35 states that have complete data, blacks also serve disproportionately longer sentences. 


The length of sentences depend on the particular drug and the quantity possessed or sold. The federal penalty for possession could be as high as 40 years. A second offense could be for life. Indeed, the enactment of three strike laws yielded very long prison sentences, including for life, even if each violation for possession was relatively minor. The federal government and 24 states have some form of three strike laws. The aggregate result has been an increase in the prison population from 500,000 in 1980 to over 2,200,000 currently. 


Undoubtedly, poverty and unemployment, and more generally a sense of hopelessness have contributed to the temptation to use illegal drugs. But the widespread use of drugs could not be contained because of the lack of adequate oversight by agencies that are responsible for putting a stop to drug trafficking. Instead, many officials have been ignoring the trafficking of drugs for a long while. The laxity in enforcement probably explains why there are substantially more drug addicts on the streets of San Francisco, as the SF Chronicle reported, than students enrolled in the city's high schools (1-30-19). 

Take for example the Winter Hill Gang in Boston, which was heavily involved in trafficking drugs. Some FBI agents claimed that they did not attempt to restrain the organization because the Winter Hill gang provided the FBI with information about a rival gang. That explanation was just an excuse that gave the gang the ability to traffic in drugs with impunity. In fact, according to law enforcement officials, drug trafficking organizations have been operating in at least 230 U.S. cities. And for the most part they have been able to do so without interference from authorities. 

The obvious question is why are enforcement agencies so lenient in enforcing drug laws. The highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer and legal scholar, Michelle Alexander, claims persuasively in her book, "The New Jim Crow", that the main reason for imprisoning African Americans reflects the establishment's backlash against the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement was not only very unpopular with the establishment. It was resented by many whites, particularly in the south, who looked unfavorably at the various gains, including voting rights, that African Americans achieved. To win white votes, Republicans pursued a racist strategy. 

Richard Nixon played a major role developing the war on drugs in order to subdue the militancy of black activists. After many years as a top Nixon aide, John D. Ehrlichman acknowledged to a journalist that criminalizing blacks was a major motive for Nixon's war on drugs. What he admitted is worth quoting in full: 

"You want to know what this was really about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying. We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did". 

Nixon was credited with initiating what he called the "War On Drugs". He certainly pursued it with a vengeance, claiming that drug abuse was "public enemy number one". But actually it was Lyndon Johnson's support for an anti-drug policy that preceded Nixon. Johnson supported the Civil Rights Act mainly in response to the successful militant struggles led by MLK Jr. and blacks generally. During his first 20 years in office (1937-1957) he always voted with the South. But he changed his position beginning in 1957, which was shortly after King and the black community won the Montgomery Bus Boycott battle. 

The political pressure of black civil rights activists did not only have an immense domestic impact. The international community was also concerned about this country's racism. Images of armed soldiers blocking nine African American high school students from integrating a public high school in Little Rock, Arkansas sent shock waves to many countries abroad. The Soviet Union was delighted with the bad publicity the U.S. was getting. The U.S. representative to the U.N. warned Eisenhower that the international repercussions were damaging this nation's influence. So Johnson along with a congressional majority of both Democrats and Republicans supported the civil rights act mainly because of the immense political pressures that were both domestic and international. 

What is not widely known is the duplicitous role that Johnson played. Before leaving office Johnson stated that the government needed to make an effort to curtail the social unrest in the country. He thought that the focus should be on illegal drug abuse. He took some organizational steps to facilitate the coming war on drugs. So although Johnson supported civil rights legislation, he also endorsed a strategy to undermine the militant character of the civil rights movement and the opportunities to make additional advances. Nixon, who succeeded Johnson, mentioned that it was important to take Johnson's advice.  

As already mentioned, Biden said that he realized the drug laws were a mistake. That's a good first step. Now he and others who have been troubled by the injustices that blacks have suffered should also demand the release of all those who are in prison for possession of drugs. The addiction to drugs deserves treatment not punishment. It is hazardous to the health of the addicted and their families. In fact, last year over 72,000 died from drug overdose. Also, treating addiction would certainly be a lot less expensive than imprisoning addicts. It would cost at least $20,000 less per person than incarceration.  

A humane approach would undoubtedly make some members of the establishment very unhappy. But it would certainly improve the quality of life of many Americans and would be best for our society as a whole. 

Travels on the Error Plane: Some Trippy Observations on Jets and Frets

Gar Smith
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 10:08:00 PM

lOn Christmas Eve 2018, government health services raised a hue and cry about an alarming outbreak of measles that had been traced to the Newark Airport in New Jersey. 

If you were to guess that an airport would be a great place to contract a contagious disease, you would be right. Do a Google search for "holiday measles and airports" and you'll get reports of infections popping up at airports in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Washington, DC and lots of "elsewheres." 

This being the case, have the watchdogs at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considered that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) might be at least partly to blame for air travelers' microbial miseries? 

Here's the deal: When air passengers arriving from abroad line up to show their passports, they can be asked to pose for an electronic photo and required to place their hands on a screen for fingerprinting. 

And here's the rub (literally): Look at the glass on those fingerprinting machines (I have) and you'll see the greasy imprints of scores of fingers that have passed by the counter and left their potentially measly mark. 

From appearances, those screens are never wiped. 

Suggestion: If the CDC, DHS and TSA really want to avoid triggering a measles epidemic, they could at least start placing bottles of hand sanitizer nearby. 

In the Event of an Emergency…. 

A Raft of Unanswered Questions 

It's a familiar drill for airline passengers: "Here's how you buckle your seat belt," "here's how you inflate your life-vest," and "escape rafts are located in overhead compartments." 

But while cabin attendants are adept at clicking and unclicking their disembodied seat belts and pretending to tug and blow on their uninflated yellow vests, there's one escape chore they never pause to address: How do you wrest those unseen emergency lifeboats from their hidden compartments? 

The printed in-flight emergency booklets don't address this question either. 

What is clear is that: in order for a flight attendant to access these rafts, he/she would need to (1) lower the compartment, which (2) would block the cabin aisle and (3) prevent passengers from escaping. 

So what's the protocol? Upon surviving an ocean landing, will passengers be instructed to remain seated while the flight crew (1) secures the overhead rafts, (2) trundles the them to the nearest exit, (3) ties them to the doorframe, (4) tosses them into the waves, (5) waits for them to properly inflate before (6) inviting hundreds of patient passengers to depart the aircraft and (7) swim for the nearest available raft? 

I'm only asking because this kind of detailed choreography doesn't seem like some thing you would want to try and explain "in the moment." A bit of rehearsal could prove useful. 

Related question: Most planes have a minimum of three rafts but how many passengers can each raft hold? (I haven't been able to find an answer online.) 

Another mystery: in addition to the rectangular rafts, some evacuation manuals show a larger, circular raft, complete with a tent-like covering. Is that the raft for First-Class Platinum passengers? 

Escapist Reading 

During a recent holiday flight, there was something new in the "escape manual" provided by our host, Copa Airlines. In the event of a "water landing" (which sounds so much better than a "mid-ocean crash"), the illustrated guide advises the first passengers to the doors, to look before leaping. 

A cartooned customer is shown peering through the window of an escape door—and you know he's peering because there's a prominent dotted line running from his eyeballs, through the window glass, and out to the world outside. 

The guide advises passengers not to open the door if (1) they can see flames or if (2) the water is higher than the bottom of the unopened door. 

The advice makes good sense. Unfortunately, something is missing: there is no other option. What do you do if the doors can't be opened—calmly return to your seat and watch as the plane slowly sinks? 

Just something to ponder after you've finished all the Sudoku and crossword puzzles in the in-flight magazine. 

The Missing in Action MIA Missives: (Introduction) 

On New Year's Eve 2017, after returning from an overseas trip, we found ourselves stranded overnight at Miami International Airport (MIA). With lots of time on my hands I jotted down some notes about the experience. With the goal of offering constructive suggestions for improving the future traveling experience, I sent a letter to Doug Parker, Chair and CEO of American Airlines. It was returned as "undeliverable."  

I then mailed the letter to Miami International Airport. After 66 days, this second letter was returned, unopened, with a sticker that read: "Return to Sender. No Such Number."  

Really? Three months and no one at the US Postal Service could find the Miami International Airport?! 

At this point, it looks like my only recourse is to "go public" with the sordid details of the whole misbegotten misadventure. So be it: 

The Tale of Our New Year's Stranding 

Sorry to report that our New Year got off to a rocky start. 

Although our December 31, 2017 American Airlines flight from the Caribbean arrived at Miami International a few minutes early on New Year's Eve, we missed our connecting AA flight to San Francisco—because of the time it took to pass through airport immigration. 

Suggestion: AA could be more aware of the delays inherent in being processed through US Customs and Immigration and allot more than two hours between arriving and connecting flights. 

After arriving, we found ourselves trapped for 20 minutes in a large crowd of passengers herded into one of the airport's corridors. No one received any information about what we were expected to do during the immigration process. 

Suggestion: It would help to display preparatory instructions and guidance in advance—on signage positioned where it can be read. Instead, hundreds of passengers wound up standing shoulder-to-shoulder, waiting in confusion and wondering what lay ahead. 

We finally arrived at a station in the airport equipped with scores of self-service electronic kiosks. There was no human assistance on hand. The only information about what we were expected to do was contained on the screens of the kiosks themselves. Many of the kiosks were out-of-order. 

Travelers were left to jostle one another to gain access to the remaining working kiosks. (There were green lights to guide passengers towards functional kiosks but they were not always reliable.) 

After several attempts, we were able to get a kiosk to produce the printouts we needed to proceed. But, then, there was no information about how to leave the "kiosk pit." Detecting a slight surge in the huge crowd, we followed the blind shuffle and, after several minutes, found ourselves approaching what turned out to be a virtually unmarked exit. 

Suggestion: It would be useful for MIA to place the Exit signs where they can be seen. Somewhere at eye-level, at least. Hung from the ceiling, at best. But certainly not where the sole sign was placed—waist-high, near an otherwise invisible exit gate.  

Passengers with an "X" marked on their tickets had to take special efforts to be processed at "X-only" check-out counters. But all the available lines were assigned to handle passengers with X-marked tickets. No other options were visible. 

Finally, having made it through the confusing entry process, we were compelled to run a considerable distance from the arrival gate to our distant departure gate. In desperation, we commandeered a small airport shuttle (intended for disabled passengers) but we still missed our plane—as did nine other passengers. 

Suggestion: Physical distances between arriving and connecting flights should be taken into consideration. When connection times are tight, shuttles should be waiting outside the processing area to whisk delayed passengers to their assigned aircraft. Shuttle drivers should be able to contact agents at the departure gate to advise them that other passengers are coming. 

Happy New Year, Suckers! 

The time we spent waiting for the next flight to SF—set to board at 8:10 the next morning—was an extremely uncomfortable experience. 

The personnel at the American Airlines counter assigned to assist passengers who missed their flights were unable to provide us with complementary hotel arrangements. Because our AA flight arrived on time, they argued, they were relieved of any further responsibility. 

I pointed it out that it took nearly 2 hours to proceed through immigration and AA should have been aware of this impasse when deciding when to schedule arriving and connecting flights. 

Didn't work. The AA reps said we were on our own. We found it impossible to relax in the airport's hard, uncushioned seats, whose hard metal armrests—apparently designed to prevent anyone from stretching out—made sleeping impossible. 

Although it was the dead of winter—with historic low temperatures and epic snowfalls blanketing the country—MIA's operators decided to keep the air-conditioning running full-blast, all night. (Adding to the misery: The only entertainment on the waiting room's TV screens were images of Anderson Cooper freezing in snowy Times Square while waiting for the New Year's Ball to drop.) 

Suggestion: A little bit of warm air would've been much appreciated by stranded passengers, some of whom could be seen doing push-ups and jogging in place in an effort to ward off frostbite. 

Suggestion: Passengers facing an unexpected all-nighter in an airport should not be forced to attempt sleeping on metal-bracketed seats. In such cases, AA and/or MIA could offer stranded passengers the simple courtesy of canvas cots for sleeping. (And, when the air-conditioning is running full-blast in the dead of winter, a few blankets to keep passengers from freezing.) 

I hope that you will be able to respond sympathetically to this note and undertake efforts to address the shortcomings that made our interrupted flight experience such a miserable one. 

It was not the best way to start a New Year. 

Your, sincerely . . . . 


I'll be sending copies of this Planet article to the folks at AA and MIA. Maybe now I'll get a response.

India’s shame

Tejinder Uberoi
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 10:16:00 PM

In a explosive new documentary called “Period. End of Sentence,” Iranian-American director, Zehtabchi, highlights the appalling neglect of Indian women who do not have access to sanitary products.] 

According to Nielsen, a research firm estimates that an astounding 70% of women in the country cannot afford sanitary products: 300m use unhygienic substitutes like newspapers, dry leaves and cotton rags. Some 23% of girls drop out of school upon reaching puberty, humiliated by their peers and unable to access clean, private toilets. The silent shame that women have to endure is deeply entrenched. Women having their period can be barred from entering the kitchen, handling food and forbidden from entering places of worship. 

In a landmark ruling, India’s Supreme Court allowed women between 10 and 50 (generally considered to be of menstruating age) to visit Sabarimala, a famous Hindu temple in Kerala. This ruling enraged many men mired in superstition of their mythical God, Lord Ayyappa who claims he was celibate and repulsed by the prospect of women’s fertility. It is worth repeating that Lord Ayyappa was a mythical, unreal entity whose only purpose was to perpetuate a false tradition and banish menstruating women from “defiling” the temple. 

A school dropout, Arunachalam Muruganantham from Tamil Nadu, was so horrified to discover his wife was using dirty cloths that he embarked on a quest to make sanitary towels at a fraction of the cost of the branded ones sold by multinationals. 

He created a mock-up uterus from a football bladder filled with goat’s blood, with a tube that would squirt liquid into his undergarments and after many trials he introduced his highly successful “Pad Man.” Eventually Bollywood capitalized on his success by introducing a blockbuster movie by the same name. 

Buoyed by their success in changing a few hearts and minds, a staggering 5.5 women in Kerala, one in three women in the state, took to the streets to champion their emancipation. The government responded declaring menstruation should not be used to discriminate women’s full participation in society. The message is clear - never underestimate the power of a grassroots movement of determined women. Bravo! 

For more go to, http://callforsocialjustice.blogspot.com/

February Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 06:16:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money.

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! 


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Edging Toward War With Iran?

Conn Hallinan
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 07:13:00 PM

Keeping track of the Trump administration’s foreign policy is like trying to track a cat on a hot tin roof: We’re pulling out of Syria (not right away). We’re leaving Afghanistan (sometime in the future). Mexico is going to pay for a wall (no, it isn’t). Saudi Arabia, Russia, the European Union, China, Turkey, North Korea—one day, friends, another day, foes. Even with a scorecard, it’s hard to tell who’s on first. 

Except for Iran, where a policy of studied hostility has been consistent from the beginning. Late last year, National Security Advisor John Bolton pressed the Pentagon to produce options for attacking Iran, and he has long advocated for military strikes and regime change in Teheran. And now, because of a recent internal policy review on the effect of US sanctions, Washington may be is drifting closer to war. 

According to “On Thin Ice,” a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), the Trump administration has concluded that the its “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions has largely failed to meet any of the White House’s “goals” of forcing Iran to re-negotiate the 2015 nuclear agreement or alter its policies in the Middle East. 

While the sanctions have damaged Iran’s economy, the Iranians have proved to be far more nimble in dodging them than Washington allowed for. And because the sanctions were unilaterally imposed, there are countries willing to look for ways to avoid them. 

“If you look at the range of ultimate objectives” of the administration, from encouraging “protests that pose an existential threat to the system, to change of behavior, to coming back to the negotiating table, none of that is happening,” Ali Vaez of the ICG’s Iran Project, told Laura Rozen of Al-Monitor

That should hardly come as a shock. Sanctions rarely achieve their goals and virtually never when they are imposed by one country, even one as powerful as the US. More than 50 years of sanctions aimed at Cuba failed to bring about regime change, and those currently aimed at Russia have had little effect beyond increasing tensions in Europe. 

This time around, the US is pretty much alone. While the Trump administration is preparing to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the European Union (EU) is lobbying Iran to stay in the pact. Russia, China, Turkey and India have also made it clear that they will not abide by the US trade sanctions, and the EU is setting up a plan to avoid using dollars. 

But the failure of the White House’s sanctions creates its own dangers because this is not an American administration that easily accepts defeat. On top of that, there is a window of opportunity for striking Iran that will close in a year, making an attack more complicated. 

The nuclear agreement imposed an arms embargo on Iran, but if Teheran stays in the agreement, that embargo will lift in 2020, allowing the Iranians to buy weapons on the international market. Beefing up Iran’s arms arsenal would not do much to dissuade the US, but it might give pause to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates (UAE), two of Teheran’s most implacable enemies. 

It is not clear who would be part of a coalition attack on Iran. Saudi Arabia and the UAE would almost certainly be involved, but that pair hardly has the Iranians quaking in their boots. The rag-tag Houthi army has fought the two Gulf monarchies to a standstill in Yemen, in spite of not having any anti-aircraft to challenge the Saudi air war. 

Iran is a different matter. Its Russian built S-300 anti-aircraft system might not discomfort the US and the Israelis, but Saudi and UAE pilots could be at serious risk. Once the embargo is lifted, Iran could augment its S-300 with planes and other anti-aircraft systems that might make an air war like the one the Gulf monarchs are waging in Yemen very expensive. 

Of course, if the US and/or Israel join in, Iran will be hard pressed. But as belligerent as Bolton and the Israeli government are toward Iran, would they initiate or join a war? 

Such a war would be unpopular in the US. Some 63 percent of Americans oppose withdrawing from the nuclear agreement and by a margin of more than two to one, oppose a war with Iran. While 53 percent oppose such a war—37 percent strongly so—only 23 percent would support a war with Iran. And, of those, only 9 percent strongly support such a war. 

The year 2020 is also the next round of US elections where control of the Senate and the White House will be in play. While wars tend to rally people to the flag, the polls suggest a war with Iran is not likely to do that. The US would be virtually alone internationally, and Saudi Arabia is hardly on the list of most American’s favorite allies. 

And it is not even a certain that Israel would join in, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls Iran an “existential threat.” Polls show that the Israeli public is hardly enthusiastic about a war with Iran, particularly if the US is not involved. 

The Israeli military is more than willing to take on Iranian forces in Syria, but a long-distance air war would get complicated. Iraq and Lebanon would try to block Israel from using their airspace to attack Iran, as would Turkey. The first two countries might not be able to do much to stop the Israelis, but flying over a hostile country is always tricky, particularly if you have to do it for an extended period of time. And anyone who thinks the Iranians are going to toss in the towel is delusional. 

Of course Israel has other ways to strike Iran, including cruise missiles deployed on submarines and surface craft. But you can’t win a war with cruise missiles, you just blow a lot of things up. 

There are deep fissures among the Gulf monarchs. Qatar has already said that it will have nothing to do with an attack on Iran, and Oman is neutral. Kuwait has signed a military cooperation agreement with Turkey because the former is more worried about Saudi Arabia than it is Iran, and with good reason. 

A meeting last September of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Emir Sabah Al-Sabah of Kuwait to discuss problems between the two countries apparently went badly. The two countries are in a dispute over who should exploit their common oil fields at Khafji and Wafra, and the Saudis unilaterally stopped production. The Kuwaitis say they lost $18 billion revenues and want compensation. 

The bad blood between the two countries goes back to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, when Saudi Arabia refused to accept the borders that the British drew for Kuwait and instead declared war. In 1922 the border was re-drawn with two-thirds of Kuwait’s territory going to Saudi Arabia. 

Lebanese legal scholar, Ali Mourad, told Al-Monitor that Kuwait has tightened its ties to Turkey because “they are truly afraid of a Saudi invasion,” especially given “the blank check Trump has issued” to Prince Salman. 

Whether Kuwait’s embrace of Turkey will serve as a check on the Saudis is uncertain. Prince Salman has made several ill-considered moves in the region, from trying to overthrow the government of Lebanon, blockading Qatar, to starting a war with Yemen. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are currently at odds over the latter’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, probably the only thing that the Saudi princes hate more than Iran. 

Would—or could—Ankara really defend Kuwait from a Saudi attack? Turkey is currently bogged down in Northern Syria, at war with its own Kurdish population, and facing what looks like a punishing recession. Its army is the second largest in NATO, and generally well armed, but it has been partly hollowed out by purges following the 2015 coup attempt. 

So is US National Security Advisor Bolton just blowing smoke when he talks about regime change in Iran? Possibly, but it is a good idea to take the neo-conservatives at their word. The US will try to get Iran to withdraw from the nuclear pact by aggressively tightening the sanctions. If Teheran takes the bait, Washington will claim the legal right to attack Iran. 

Bolton and the people around him engineered the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq (the Obama administration gets the blame for Libya and Yemen), and knocking out Iran has been their long time goal. If they pull it off, the US will ignite yet another forever war. 








ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Antipsychotic Meds Marketed to Treat Depression

Jack Bragen
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 04:27:00 PM

New medications are continually invented and are sold under fancy names. Our government requires that drug advertisements disclose some of the possible side effects of the drugs being sold. These disclosures should be taken seriously.

Antipsychotics to treat depression could be done under the premise that the depression is created by too many negative thoughts. If you reduce a person's number of thoughts by fifty percent with an antipsychotic drug, it could decrease the number of negative, or pain-inducing thoughts by the same percentage. Thus, if a person's depression is caused by excessive pessimistic, self-hating, fearful, or upsetting thoughts, reducing the number of overall thoughts could reduce depression. This does not necessarily happen in a linear manner. 

I don't know for certain that the above paragraph represents the ideas of the pharmaceutical companies and/or doctors when they promote an antipsychotic to treat depression. From what I've read, doctors do not really know the mechanisms by which antipsychotics appear to help with depression. 

When I hear the disclosures of possible side effects of the medications being marketed, I can conclude through my knowledge base and experience that some of these drugs with newfangled names, in advertisements I see, are probably in the same class of substances as "second-generation antipsychotics." 

Any drug can have any name. For example, Bupropion is called "Zyban" when it is promoted as a stop smoking aid. The same substance is called Wellbutrin when it is used to treat depression. I am not familiar with the exact regulations pertaining to the naming of drugs. However, I've taken numerous substances that were sold under different names at different times. (Bupropion, to clarify, is not an antipsychotic.) 

You might wonder why I mention drug names and variations on drugs. I speculate that the pharma industry is doing a bait and switch in their marketing. If a depressed person realizes that the great new treatment for depression is the same old antipsychotic that they have despised in the past, they could be reluctant to buy. 

Antipsychotics are central nervous system depressants. They decrease a person's capabilities. Therefore, you could feel less emotional pain because the load of pain-inducing thoughts is decreased. However, your level of functioning at many things could be impaired. 

Mindfulness techniques are sometimes an alternative to medication, for depression and other problems that affect the emotions. However, if the problem is severe enough that it is debilitating, and/or if your symptoms are worsening, an MD psychiatrist should be consulted. 

On the other hand, if you are miserable but still able to function, and if you do not have thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, mindfulness methods could be explored rather than instantly going to psychiatry. If the mindfulness doesn't work well enough, at least you've tried it. 

I find that as a person with severe, paranoid schizophrenia, and in treatment for that, depression is an element of my life that is sometimes unavoidable. What I try to do, among other things, is to have some separation between emotions and perceptions. 

This means that when my emotions are generating depression, I am aware that my body and mind are depressed, but my consciousness has some insulation from that. This ability stems from the fact that I have practiced mindfulness for most of the thirty-five years plus of adulthood, following the time I became mentally ill. 

Meditation combined with medication works for me. If you do not feel able to go somewhere that meditation is taught, or if you are not comfortable with the idea, you could read books on the subject. 

Insofar as antipsychotics used to treat depression, you are not always being shortchanged. In my past, when I was in my twenties, I found that an increase in my antipsychotics alleviated my depression. 

Drug companies could be "pulling a fast one" on us, or perhaps doctors are just trying to do something that might work. 


Jack Bragen's books can be found on Amazon. 

THE PUBLIC EYE:Imagine that Donald Trump is a Russian Asset

Bob Burnett
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 04:39:00 PM

At the moment, it appears that Donald Trump's attention is focussed on two subjects: his "wall" and the latest installment of the Mueller probe. Nonetheless, in the background, the Trump Administration continues to engage in acts that jeopardize our security; such as lifting sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Imagine that Trump is, in fact, a Russian asset. Does that explain his treacherous behavior?

Russia: It's generally agreed that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. (Although not everyone agrees that Trump was involved in this meddling.) Trump has never acknowledged this fact; he says he accepts Vladimir Putin's claim that Russia did not interfere. 

Even though Congress has levied sanctions against Russia, the Trump Administration has resisted these. For example, Newsweek reported, “Trump’s administration has neglected for nearly three months to implement required sanctions targeting Russia that were intended to punish Moscow for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom last year." 

National Security Establishment: To an extent not seen in previous Administrations, Trump has disparaged the FBI, Justice Department, CIA, NSA, and the national security establishment, in general. (He called the FBI "a cancer in our country." As a result, public confidence in the FBI is eroding (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/fbi-support-is-eroding-but-most-americans-still-back-bureau-poll-says ).) 

Of course, the U.S. national security establishment is responsible for protecting us from Russian interference in our elections. (By the way, Trump has yet to call for a government-wide investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and seems unfazed by the fact that this interference continues.) 

Strategic Alliances: One of Russia's foreign-policy objectives is to weaken US alliances. When Barack Obama left office, these alliances were strong; two years later they are in disarray. For example, Trump has consistently disparaged NATO. (And, randomly tells his aides to move the U.S. out of NATO (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/politics/nato-president-trump.html ).) 

As another example, the European Union has been weakened by the pending departure of Great Britain and the rise of right-wing populists. In the latter part of 2018, the Trump Administration downgraded the EU's diplomatic status ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2019/01/08/the-trump-administration-is-downgrading-the-e-u-s-diplomatic-status-in-washington-thats-going-to-hurt/?). 

After Great Britain, the U.S.'s closest ally has been Canada. That's no longer the case. Trump has disparaged Prime Minister Trudeau and Canada, in general. That's severely damaged the relationship (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/03/world/canada/trudeau-trump-nafta.html ). 

In fact, it's difficult to think of any strategic relationship that Trump has strengthened -- except that with Russia. 

National Unity: In order to stand up to a strong adversary, such as Russia, the United States must be unified. But since entering the White House, Trump has been an incredibly divisive figure. The most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/wrong-track-public-sours-nation-s-direction-after-shutdown-n963051 ) found that 63 percent of respondents believed that the nation is headed in the wrong direction. (In the same poll, 58 percent do not believe that Trump is "honest and trustworthy.") 

There's no doubt that trump has fomented racial and ethnic animosity. Many Americans feel that the U.S. is more divided than at any time in recent memory (https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/01/poll-more-voters-say-media-divide-country-than-trump-952209 ). 

National Security Assessment: On Tuesday, January 29, Trump's Intelligence Chiefs appeared before Congress and Presented a National Security Assessment (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/01/30/us-intelligence-chiefs-de-facto-message-allies-around-world-youre-right-trump-is-wrong/?) that disagreed with Trump's assertions. For example, while Trump has a benign assessment of Russia, the Intelligence Chiefs reported, "Moscow continues to be a highly capable and effective adversary, integrating cyber espionage, attack, and influence operations to achieve its political and military objectives.” 

The Intelligence chiefs also disagreed with Trump on Iran, ISIS, and North Korea. Although Trump insists that immigration across the U.S. southern border is our number one security issue, and demands that a wall be built, this was not mentioned in the National Security Assessment. 

On January 30, Trump pushed back against his Intelligence chiefs (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/30/us/politics/trump-intelligence-agencies.html ). He said their assessment was "wrong" and called them "passive and naive." (This public split between the White House and the Intelligence community was unprecedented.) 

Conversations with Putin: Since entering the White House, Trump has had extended conversations with Putin on at least five occasions and has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the record of these conversations from being made public ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-has-concealed-details-of-his-face-to-face-encounters-with-putin-from-senior-officials-in-administration/2019/01/12/65f6686c-1434-11e9-b6ad-9cfd62dbb0a8_story.html?) : "U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader." (We have no way of knowing if Trump talks to Putin on the phone.) 

The Washington Post reports that during the Trump presidential campaign there were, “101 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia linked operatives [and] the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them.” ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/here-are-18-reasons-why-trump-could-be-a-russian-asset/2019/01/13/45b1b250-174f-11e9-88fe-f9f77a3bcb6c_story.html?) 

Summary: As time passes, there's increasing evidence that Trump has an unsavory relationship with Russia. Given how unpleasant Trump is, it's easy for those of us on the left to conclude that Donald is a Russian asset. As long as we only talk to each other, this position isn't a problem. But as soon as we talk to Trump supporters, it raises a big barrier -- Trump advocates accuse us of "Trump derangement syndrome" and shut down. 

A more measured stance is to say that whether Trump is a Russian asset, or just a "useful fool" being managed by Putin, the results are the same: Donald Trump is a grave national security threat. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and activist. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net

ECLECTIC RANT:Trump Insults His Intelligence Chiefs

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 04:35:00 PM

The 42-page annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community was released on January 29th. The Assessment found that Trump's trade policies and “unilateralism” and “America First” approach have strained traditional alliances and prompted foreign partners to seek new relationships. 

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in conjunction shortly with the release of the Assessment, the nation’s intelligence chiefs contradicted President Trump on his assertions that ISIS has been defeated in Syria, that North Korea is likely to give up its nuclear weapons, and that Iran has cheated on the 2015 nuclear agreement even after the Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from it. 

Notably, the Assessment does not include any threat to the nation at our border with Mexico. 

The next day, Trump ridiculed the intelligence chiefs’ Assessment as "extremely passive and naive” and that “[P]erhaps Intelligence should go back to school.” In response, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Intelligence Director Coats, FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel to “stage an intervention and educate the commander in chief about how important it is for him to back the U.S. intelligence community." 

Would Trump even listen? Given his past history of making decisions without first seeking advice, I expect not. After all, why would he need to. After all. Trump has told us many a time that he is “like really smart, a very stable genius." 

Remember, these intelligence chiefs were appointed by Trump and represent thousands of intelligence experts in the various intelligence agencies. And remember, as a candidate, he boasted that if elected, he'd "surround myself only with the best and most serious people" -- adding: "We want top-of-the-line professionals.”  

Andy Borowitz, the satirist for The New Yorker summed up this “intelligence thing" quite nicely: "Using some of his harshest rhetoric in recent memory, President Donald J. Trump came out strongly against intelligence on Wednesday morning. “I’ve listened to these people with so-called intelligence go on and on, and, quite frankly, it’s a waste of time,” he said. “I know a lot more than people with intelligence do.” . . . . President’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, denied that Trump’s war on intelligence was a new development. “Intelligence has never played a role in Donald Trump’s life,” she said. 

On January 31 — the day after he had insulted them — Trump met with Coates and Haskel. After the meeting, Trump Tweeted that the intelligence chiefs had been misquoted by the media. Misquoted indeed. We heard what they said and transcripts of their testimony is available to read. Whereas, there is no transcript of the meeting between Trump and Coates and Haskel. 

I’m worried and you should be too.

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits and Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 10:07:00 PM

Arrest That Border-crossing Messiah! 

Joseph and Mary were refugees, too. They were forced to flee King Herod and his Massacre of the Innocents. But while it was an angle who tipped Joseph to the danger and suggested an escape to Egypt, it turns out that King Herod's homicidal tantrum was triggered by . . . the Three Wise Men. 

Yup, it was the Magi who made the mistake of knocking on Herod's door and blew Jesus' cover by asking the despot where they could find the newly born "King of the Jews." (Not so wise, guys.) Herod freaked! 

While the Magi went back to looking for the right star to follow, Herod's terror squads got busy killing innocent children while the Joseph, Mary and Jesus safely escaped to Egypt along the ancient Via Maris road. 

So would Donald Trump have stopped the Holy Family at the border and ordered the baby Jesus separated from his parents? Of course, he would. Like Herod of old, Trump is a big fan of "zero tolerance." FYI: "zero tolerance" is a euphemism for "cruelty." Tolerance requires treating others with respect and accommodation and that's not Trump's style. 

Make Trump Pay 

On December 11, Donald Trump famously declared: "I am proud to shut down the government for border security . . . . I will take the mantle." (Maybe he meant to say, "dismantle.") 

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the 35-day federal shutdown cost the nation $11 billion and left the Treasury with an unrecoverable economic loss of $3 billion. 

Perhaps the new Congress could pass a bill requiring self-styled-billionaire Trump to reimburse the US Treasury for that $3 billion loss. After all, in calling for the shutdown, Trump said he was proud to own it. So now he owes us

No to NATO 

As Popular Resistance co-founder Kevin Zeese has written: "NATO is no longer a defensive force against the non-existent Soviet Union but has become a military aggressor working with the US in illegal wars . . . . NATO has become a front for Western aggression. Far from keeping the peace and serving as an agent of stability, NATO's interventions have resulted in destruction around the world, causing mass deaths and mass migration as people are forced from their NATO-destroyed homes, cities, and villages." 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's targets have included Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Yugoslavia. None of these countries were guilty of threatening to invade or attack another NATO member—the official raison d'etre for this Cold War anachronism. 

And now, NATO's newest member, Colombia (located a long way from the North Atlantic), may soon become host to the 5,000 American troops (carelessly/cynically) mentioned on John Bolton's notepad. 

NATO Yes, Healthcare No? 

Ironically, at the same time Congressional Democrats were rejecting Trump's Wall, House members were voting 357-22 in favor of H.R.676—a $1 trillion gift to the 28 members of NATO. 

Ironically, $4.6 million of this amount is headed to Denmark to finance construction of a 43-mile wall to protect the country from (I kid you not) an invasion of wild pigs. 

Adding insult to injury, 124 members of congress agreed to designate its "Support NATO Act" as H.R.676. 

Why was this a major political slight? Because, for the past 16 years, H.R.676 was the title of "gold standard bill" calling a single-payer, Medicare For All healthcare system. So it's yes to NATO; no to MFA. 

Another Political Divide: The BDS Vote 

On January 28, with very little mention in the media, the US Senate passed a bill that the American Civil Liberties Union characterized as an attack of free speech. The bill, among other things, called for a ban on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to punish the current Israeli government of its unlawful mistreatment of the Palestinian people. 

The Washington-based Just Foreign Policy group has assembled a list of which senators voted for and against the legislation—along with a list of donations received from pro-Israel lobbyists. 

Here is a "Heroes List" of the nay-saying senators who voted to protect the right to freely criticize foreign leaders and their policies (followed by their lifetime accumulations of pro-Israel money). 

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) 0
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) $230,342
Thomas Carper (D-DE) $13,670
Dick Durbin (D-IL) $18,310
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) $53,550
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) $30,165
Martin Heinrich (D-NM) $37,017
Mazie Hirono (D-HI) $9,500
Tim Kaine (D-VA) $168,023
Patrick Leahy (D-VT) 0
Jeff Merkley (D-OR) $21,039
Chris Murphy (D-CT) $97,675
Gary Peters (D-MI) 0
Jack Reed (D-RI) 0
Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 0
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) $1,750
Tom Udall (D-NM) 0
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) 0
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) 0 

What is notable about this list is the number of senators who are indebted to pro-Israel donations but still voted against the BDS-ban and in favor of free speech and untrammeled political protest. Outstanding among this list: Senator Dianne Feinstein. Also outstanding, but for the wrong reason: Sen. Kamala Harris, who abstained from voting. 

As one activist noted: "Profiles in courage Cory Booker and [Kamala] Harris skipped the vote. Jack Reed voted no, but Sheldon Whitehouse voted yes. [Dick] Durbin voted no, but [Tammy] Duckworth voted yes." 

Why Not Just Ban Bullets? 

Congress has finally reinstituted the ban on assault rifles. But only for potential mass killers under the age of 21. This wouldn't have stopped 64-year-old Stephen Paddock who killed 58 people and wounded nearly 900 Las Vegas concertgoers in 2017. [Lingering question: What was Paddock's motive? Has no one been able to find one? Or is the motive known but just too inflammatory to divulge?] 

Still, the partial ban on hand-carried weapons of mass destruction is a step in the right direction. Expect further similar laws to protect public safety—beginning with legislation to ban the possession of pistols by anyone under the age of 12. [Note: Satire alert.] 

Let the War Powers Act Apply to Sanctions 

US presidents like to imply that economic sanctions are simply a diplomatic tool—an alternative to sending in the Marines. But, as any honest diplomat will tell you, sanctions are tools of economic aggression whose use can constitute "an act of war." 

It's bad enough that the US routinely imposes sanctions to topple foreign governments—Libya, Iran, and now Venezuela—but Washington also demands that other nations recognize its geopolitical spats and impose their own sanctions against any and all countries targeted by the US. And any allies that fail to follow in lock-step will face US threats and sanctions themselves. 

What gives the US—or any country—the right to tell another foreign government who they can do and can't business with? 

Perhaps the Congress should consider an extension of the War Powers Act to require that any president must first go to Congress to gain permission to impose economic sanctions on another country. History has shown that sanctions are often a prelude—and a stimulus—to war. Trump has used the sanctions weapon widely and repeatedly. It's a weapon and it's an act of war. Ergo, if the Constitution is to be honored, only Congress should be empowered to impose sanctions against another nation. 

A Fellow Senator Schools Ted Cruz

On January 24, Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), in a rebuttal to Senate colleague Ted Cruz (D-TX), gave an emotional speech on Trump's federal shutdown and the state of American democracy. It's a performance worthy of Tom Hanks. If you've got the time, here is a link to the full 35-minute speech. And here's a quick taste: 


Holiday Memories from the Caribbean 

In Trinidad, over the holidays, we discovered a new addition to the Christmas celebrations. The local media was reporting enthusiastically about appearances by a group called the Ded Moruz. These turned out to be teams of daredevils dressed in Santa Claus outfits who rappel down the sides of hospitals to appear outside the windows of sick and recovering children. (One hopes the children are given fair warning before these creepy Santas do their Spiderman thing.) 

Weird aside: Ded Moruz, a Slavic incarnation of Santa Claus, is a popular folk-figure in Russia. How this tradition made the leap to the Caribbean is a mystery. 

Less of a mystery: Trinidad's towns and cities are host to a growing number of urban gangs. Some have more flair than others. One that was in the news during our stay had christened itself with a memorable name: "The Heartless Felons." 

Earth Anthems: National Anthems that Celebrate Peace and Not War 


In the long folk tradition of adding new verses to old songs, visionary singer and songwriter Stephen Longfellow Fiske (a descendant of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) has transformed the militaristic "Star Spangled Banner" into the "Earth Anthem"—with new lyrics that reflect the global perspectives of the 21st century, blending democratic ideals, peace, and environmental harmony. 

And here is a http://www.envirosagainstwar.org/know/read.php?&itemid=20223">link to six additional Earth Anthems—including Michael Jackson's incredibly powerful "Earth Song."

Arts & Events

Yefim Bronfman in Recital at Zellerbach

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 04:38:00 PM

Never having heard Soviet-born Israeli-American pianist Yefim Bronfman perform before I attended his recital at Zellerbach Hall on Friday, February 1, my first impression as he walked onstage was of a stocky, one might say, portly, middle-aged man who, unlike most pianists, proceeded behind the piano rather than in front of it. There seemed something humble and workmanlike about this approach, as if Bronfman were shunning the spotlight and simply going about his business. Then, standing behind the piano bench, he took a perfunctory bow, sat down, and without a pause, began to play.  

The first item on the program was Claude Debussy’s Suite bergamasque, composed in 1890 and revised for publication in 1905. This famous suite is a work of great delicacy and utmost clarity. Here Debussy expresses his fundamental solidarity with the music of French Baroque composers Jean-Philippe Rameau and François Couperin. Its title derives from Baroque dance suites and from the North Italian district around Bergamo.  

The Suite bergamasque comprises four movements, three of which are dance-inspired. The opening Prelude is a flowing, rippling piece that, somewhat surprisingly, ends with a bang. The second piece is a playful, perhaps a touch wistful, Menuet. Next comes the famous Clair de lune, as poetic an evocation of moonlight as music offers, here dutifully rendered by Yefim Bronfman. The fourth and final piece is a romping Passepied. While Bronfman, who was born in Tashkent, Uzbek, USSR, may not have given this Suite bergamasque by Debussy the most Gallic interpretation, leaning as he did slightly on the heavy rather than light side, nevertheless, Debussy’s textures, colors, and harmonies all shone brightly.  

Next on the program was Robert Schumann’s Humoreske in B-flat Major. This work of Schumann’s early maturity unfolds as a cycle of seven episodes, offering widely contrasting moods. The opening is buoyant; the second starts out briskly, then becomes tender. The third offers dramatic repetitions; and the fourth is bouncy and melodic. Yefim Bronfman effectively brought out the changing sonorities of these diverse episodes. Drama then ensues and there occurs a disquieting stop-and-go effect. Then the music turns introspective; and, finally, it closes with a flashy ending. As a work offering a pianist of the caliber of Yefim Bronfman, whose graduate studies were at Juilliard, Marlboro, and the Curtis Institute, many opportunities to show off a mastery of diverse moods and sonorities, Schumann’s Humoreske is a successful, if somewhat academic, tour de force. 

After intermission, Yefim Bronfman, who became an American citizen in 1989, performed one of Franz Schubert’s last three great piano sonatas, the C minor, D. 958. The opening Allegro offers a rousing, tumultuous tribute to Beethoven. Yet there are hints of Romantic Sturm und Drang in this dramatic movement. Things calm down, however, in the second movement, a poignant Adagio. Yet even here, there is drama as the movement’s middle section offers a surprising outburst, performed here with power by Yefim Bronfman. A spirited Menuetto ensues in Allegro time with an extended Trio, all marked by contrasting dynamics and irregular, stop-and-go phrasing. The Finale is a playful romp, full of color and rhythm, effectively performed here by Yefim Bronfman, who strikes me as a pianist who more than makes up for in technical command and workmanlike efficiency what he lacks in personal charisma.  

Because of the stormy weather, I did not stay to hear what encores, if any, Yefim Bronfman chose to play. This was not out of disrespect or lack of interest but simply a matter of driving home as early as possible on a stormy night.

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar: Feb. 3-10

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 10:11:00 PM

Worth Noting:

City Council Tuesday Presentation on Wildfire Safety Planning is a must attend – Consider: a wildfire in Wildcat Canyon could burn down Kensington in 8 minutes., Berkeley could go up in an hour. If you own a car, did you know always parking facing the street might save your life or your neighbors’ in an emergency evacuation? There are steps to take to reduce fire risk. (See note and links at the end of this email)

Thursday is the East Bay Electrification Expo: Fight Climate Change in a clean energy home. The expo is free and pre-registration is recommended to participate in workshops 

Sunday, February 3, 2019 

No city meetings or events found 

Monday, February 4, 2019 

Agenda Committee, Monday, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Agenda: Planning for February 19, City Council Meeting 6. MOU $250,000 explore viability of ferry service and public recreation pier at Berkeley Marina 8. Sewer Rehabilitation, 9.&10. Fill vacancies in Human Welfare and Community action Commission, 14. Density Bonus, 15.16.&21. Cannabis 17. a.&b. Living Wage 18. Standby Officiers 19. a.&b. Vacant Properties assessment, 20. a.&b. prohibition of investing City funds in weapons vs limiting to gun manufacturers, 22. Declaring Homelessness a Sate of Emergency, 23. Close loophole for avoiding mitigation fee thru property line manipulation, 24. Analysis Zoning code to expand #units on lot – missing middle 


Children, Youth and Recreation Commission, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 2800 Park St, Frances Albrier Community Center at San Pablo Park, Agenda: Community agency Grant Review 


Peace and Justice Commission, 7:00 pm – 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor Cypress Room , Agenda: 10. Local Hazard Mitigation Plan https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Commissions__Peace_and_Justice_Commission_Homepage.aspx 

Personnel Board, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conference Room, Agenda: Revision Aquatics Coordinator Classification, Extension Provisional Senior Management Analyst, Extension Temporary Director of Health, Housing and Community Services 


Tax the Rich Rally, Mon, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Rain Cancels Top of Solano in front of the closed Oaks theater (soon to be a climbing gym), 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 

Berkeley City Council, - Worksession 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, 1231 Addison Street, BUSD Board Room, Presentations: 1. Pedestrian Master Plan, 2. Small Business Support, 3. Wildfire Safety Planning 


Wednesday, February 6, 2019 

Ad-Hoc Subcommittee on Climate Emergency, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Agenda: TBA 


Board of Library Trustees, 6:30 pm, 1901 Russell St, Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch Library,  


Commission on Disability, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm, 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 5. Service Animals, 7. IKE Smart City Kiosks disability access, 8. Co-op Community Living proposal, E-Scooter, 2019 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan 


Community Health Commission – Policy Subcommittee, 3:30 pm, 2801 Telegraph, Mudrakers Café, Agenda: Review of current legislative items 


Planning Commission, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 1947 Center Street, Agenda: 10. Green Affordable Housing Package referral – Reduce/eliminate parking requirement for developments with affordable units, 11. Hazard Mitigation Plan, 12. Student Housing Letter 


Thursday, February 7, 2019 

East Bay Electrification Expo, 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm, 3075 Adeline, Ed Roberts Campus, Expo is free, Fight Climate Change with a Clean Energy Home, demonstrations, latest advances in water heaters, heating/cooling systems, induction cooktop 



Cannabis Commission, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, 2180 Milvia St, 6th Floor, Agenda: B. Cooperatives/collectives, D. Equity 


Housing Advisory Commission, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 7. 2001 Ashby Predevelopment Loan, 9. Community Development Block grant, 11. Smoking Ban Multifamily Housing, 12. Establish Protocol for the Bi-Annual Housing Policy Report, 13. Student District Density Bonus 


Landmarks Preservation Commission, 7:00 pm – 11:30 pm, 1947 Center St, Multipurpose Room, Basement, Agenda: 5. Hazard Mitigation Plan 

1440 Hawthorne Terrace – Landmark or Structure of Merit, Marsh House and Gardens 

1450 Hawthorne Terrace - Landmark or Structure of Merit, Sperry-McLaughlin House and Gardens 

2580 Bancroft Way – Final Design Fred Turner Building 

1414 Walnut – Structural Alteration Permit 


Public Works Commission, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 1326 Allston Way, Willow Room, City of Berkeley Corporation Yard , Agenda: Not Posted 


Soulful African American History Celebration, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, 1730 Oregon St, Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Center, 


Friday, February 8 2019 

Berkeley City Reduced Services Day 

Saturday, February 9, 2019 

No city meetings or events found 

Sunday, February 10, 2019 

No city meetings or events found 



Before the Disaster and Fire Safety Commission began on January 23, 2019, Fire Chief Brannigan was asked to comment on the rumor that the Fire Chief for Kensington had stated if there was a fire in Wildcat Canyon, Kensington could burn down in 8 minutes. Chief Brannigan’s response, “that sounds about right” He went on to explain embers carried by the wind can start a new fire a mile away. With climate change, fires are burning hotter, faster and more unpredictably. 


The Dec 30, 2018 LA Times article “Here’s how Paradise ignored warnings and became a deathtrap” includes references to the 1991 Oakland Berkeley Hills Firestorm. 




To Check For Regional Meetings with Berkeley Council Appointees 



The meeting list is also posted on the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition website. 



When notices of meetings are found that are posted after Friday 5:00 pm they are added to the website schedule https://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and preceded by LATE ENTRY