Moscow Mitch

Jagjit Singh
Tuesday August 06, 2019 - 11:35:00 AM

Finally, the media has penetrated the poker face Mitch McConnell by labelling him “Moscow Mitch”, a description he richly deserves. By his inaction he has left the nation unprotected from Russian interference. -more-

Jake Heggie’s IF I WERE YOU Is A Loser

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Tuesday August 06, 2019 - 11:07:00 AM

For the first time in its 60 year existence, the Merola Opera Program commissioned a new work, and they chose San Franciscos own Jake Heggie to compose a new opera. Heggie teamed up once again with librettist Gene Scheer, with whom he had worked, most notably, on Moby Dick. Together, Heggie and Scheer decided to do a loose adaptation of Julien Greens 1947 French novel Si j’étais vous/If I Were You. The plot involves a young man, Fabian Hart, who, like Goethes Faust, makes a pact with the devil. This devil, however, is a woman who goes by the name Brittomara; and what she offers young Fabian is the opportunity to transfer his soul into anyone he chooses, thereby ridding himself of his own identity and assuming a new one each time he makes a transfer. The problem is, however, that, unlike Goethes Faust, who ambitiously sought to know everything and to make the world a better place, young Fabian seems to know nothing. He is, as Joshua Kosman called him, a numbskull. -more-

Public Comment

How Organic is Whole Foods?

Harry Brill
Friday August 02, 2019 - 03:06:00 PM

Although Whole Foods carries more organic food than any other supermarket in the Bay Area, the majority of what it sells is non-organic products. Let's take a look at the Whole Foods store in Berkeley on Gilman. -more-

August Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday August 02, 2019 - 10:06:00 AM

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! -more-


Paul Krassner Bows Out, Unbowed

Gar Smith
Saturday August 03, 2019 - 06:55:00 PM

At 1:35PM on July 21, 2019, a short email from a family friend reverberated through the Netosphere. We'd been warned it was imminent but the foreshadowing didn't diminish the sense of loss: Paul Krassner was about to exit stage-left. -more-


Fake Fights Give False Impressions

Becky O'Malley
Friday August 02, 2019 - 10:12:00 AM

“Let’s you and him fight!”

That’s the signature line of Popeye the Sailor Man’s buddy Wimpy, ever eager to stir things up in the ‘30s cartoons. Wimpy seems to have been the role model for those CNN newsies who tried to spice things up in this week’s Democratic presidential debates. I can’t remember their individual names, since I seldom watch CNN or any other TV “news”, but let’s just say one was a mutton-dressed-as-lamb woman with bleached and flattened hair, one was a pasty white guy with serious horn rims, and one was a kinda black guy, but you know, not too black. They could have been interchanged with a dozen others of similar description, but all were all carefully scripted by CNN’s Wimpy-on-staff to turn a civil discussion into a Real Debate.

Their MSNBC equivalents who asked the questions in the June shows (also inaccurately called debates) were milder, with even Rachel Maddow toned down for the occasion. There were complaints that those were dull (and they were). The candidates themselves provided whatever sparks flew, with Berkeley’s own Kamala Harris lighting a small fire under Joe Biden. (Yes, I know she was born in Oakland, but I bet that’s just because Kaiser’s there, not because her mother lived there.) -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Rivers of Dust: Water & the Middle East

Conn Hallinan
Friday August 02, 2019 - 02:48:00 PM

It is written that “Enannatum, ruler of Lagash,” slew “60 soldiers” from Umma. The battle between the two ancient city states took place 4,500 years ago near where the great Tigris and Euphrates rivers come together in what is today Iraq. The matter in dispute? Water.

More than four millennia have passed since the two armies clashed over one city state’s attempt to steal water from another, but while the instruments of war have changed, the issue is much the same: whoever controls the rivers controls the land.

And those rivers are drying up, partly because of overuse and wastage, and partly because climate change has pounded the region with punishing multi-year droughts.

Syria and Iraq are at odds with Turkey over the Tigris-Euphrates. Egypt’s relations with Sudan and Ethiopia over the Nile are tense. Jordan and the Palestinians accuse Israel of plundering river water to irrigate the Negev Desert and hogging most of the three aquifers that underlie the occupied West Bank.

According to satellites that monitor climate, the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, embracing Turkey, Syria, Iraq and western Iran, is losing water faster than any other area in the world, with the exception of Northern India. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming

Bob Burnett
Friday August 02, 2019 - 02:21:00 PM

No sooner did Special Counsel Robert Mueller testify that the Russians continue to interfere in U.S. politics, than the Senate Intelligence Committee released a sobering report about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Before the public could digest this, the news was swept off the front pages by Donald Trump's racist tweets. Nonetheless, the truth is hiding in plain sight: Russians are interfering in U.S. politics and Trump doesn't want to do anything about it.

Robert Mueller's July 24th appearance before the House Intelligence Committee was highlighted by his strong statements about Russia: "The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion." He indicated the Russian interference continues, “They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign."

After 30 months of investigation, we know the Russian interference took five forms: -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Treat Condition "Aggressively" but Don't Medicate Normal Problems

Jack Bragen
Friday August 02, 2019 - 03:09:00 PM

The following should not be taken as medical or psychiatric advice. It is derived from my personal experience only, and I am not a doctor. If you need medical, psychiatric, or any other advice, you must consult a licensed professional.


Recent medical philosophy pertaining to type 2 Diabetes entails "aggressive treatment," which means being rigorous with treatment to keep blood sugar at controlled levels. Doing this is said to minimize organ damage. This also may increase the diabetes patients' chances of progress toward needing less treatment and/or of the disease going into remission.

The above is analogous to schizophrenia treatment, in which many psychiatrists are in favor of high meds, so that the patient gets relief from her or his symptoms and has a better outcome.

Prescribing medication to treat the normal suffering that is intrinsic to "the human condition" should not usually be done. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Gilroy Garlic Festival Mass Shooting

Ralph E. Stone
Friday August 02, 2019 - 02:51:00 PM

I am saddened at the killing on July 28, 2019, of 6-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Kayla Salazar, and 25-year-old Trevor Irby, and the wounding 12 others, at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival by a 19-year old Gilroy, California native using an AK-47 type semiautomatic assault weapon; the killer was killed by police. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday August 03, 2019 - 07:06:00 PM

That's the Spirit

Street Spirit, the feisty 21-year-old monthly tabloid ("Justice News and Homeless Blues in the Bay Area") just finished up the month of July with an "International Issue" that featured a report on the International Network of Street Papers. The INSP, which encompasses more than 100 publications in 35 countries in 25 languages, held is annual conference in Hanover, Germany and Spirit editor-in-chief Alastair Boone was on hand to bring back a report.

As the pressures of social inequality continue to rise around the world, Street Journalism has provided a "communications life-raft" that dispossessed urban dwellers can cling to. According to Boone, "The are around 25,000 vendors who sell INSP-member papers globally each year and 4.6 million people read the papers worldwide." As a result, sidewalk sales of these publications "has put over $30 million in the pockets of the vendors each year."

Today, the Street Spirit has come up with a brand-new fund-raising angle. What is this novel idea? A novel.

In addition to the monthly collection of news, essays, artwork and poems, Spirit vendors are now offering copies of Eastern Span, an illustrated "noir novel" by local writer Rick Paulas about life and debt in a gentrifying Oakland—where dive-bars and homeless encampments strive to survive in an economy dominated by powerful developers. It's being offered on a sliding scale of $5-10.and you can pick up a copy from your local Street Spirit vendor. -more-

Friday August 02, 2019 - 10:20:00 AM


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, August 4-11

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday August 03, 2019 - 06:53:00 PM

Worth Noting:

City Council is on summer recess until September 9th and most of the Boards and Commissions also take a summer break, some in July and some in August. August 6 is National Night Out.

Wildfire Evacuation Drills for high risk fire areas

  • August 4 (see below),
  • August 11 from 9am – 10 am, neighborhood Wildcat Canyon to the east, The Alameda to the West, Berkeley-Contra Costa border to the north, Codornices Park to the south, aaa
  • August 25 from 9am – 10 am, neighborhood Berkeley-Contra costa to the east, Spruce to the west, Codornices Park to the north and UC Berkeley to south.
For more details on Wildfire Evacuation Drills and to sign up go to link https://www.cityofberkeley.info/City_Manager/Press_Releases/2019/2019-07-23_Sign_up_for_City-led_wildfire_evacuation_drills_in_August.aspx

Disaster and Fire Safety Commission on Wednesday is addressing wildfire risk reduction, power shutoff, fire equipment access. -more-

Berkeley Regional Housing Survey & Housing Workshop

Friday August 02, 2019 - 03:03:00 PM

The City of Berkeley and the County of Alameda want your feedback on housing issues, as part of an action-focused report called Regional Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (Regional AI).

Your feedback will help guide housing policies and housing goals in your area!

To help, please take this 10-15 min Alameda County Regional Housing Survey (Click on Link) and share your views on housing characteristics and housing needs. -more-

Back Stories



Fake Fights Give False Impressions 08-02-2019



Public Comment

How Organic is Whole Foods? Harry Brill 08-02-2019

August Pepper Spray Times By Grace Underpressure 08-02-2019


Moscow Mitch Jagjit Singh 08-06-2019

Jake Heggie’s IF I WERE YOU Is A Loser Reviewed by James Roy MacBean 08-06-2019

Paul Krassner Bows Out, Unbowed Gar Smith 08-03-2019


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Rivers of Dust: Water & the Middle East Conn Hallinan 08-02-2019

THE PUBLIC EYE: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming Bob Burnett 08-02-2019

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Treat Condition "Aggressively" but Don't Medicate Normal Problems Jack Bragen 08-02-2019

ECLECTIC RANT: Gilroy Garlic Festival Mass Shooting Ralph E. Stone 08-02-2019

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces Gar Smith 08-03-2019

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, August 4-11 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 08-03-2019

Berkeley Regional Housing Survey & Housing Workshop 08-02-2019