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Official Secrets Debuts with Gun Blazing

Review by Gar Smith
Monday September 09, 2019 - 11:33:00 AM

Who needs a cinematic world of superheroes when we already have a quartet of real-world heroes willing to risk everything to confront and expose evil? Forget about The Avengers. Instead, let's have a rousing cheer for the like of Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Katharine Gun. 

By now, the first three heroes have all been the subject of powerful documentaries and/or box-office big-screen bios. Now millions of people are about to marvel at the story of Katharine Gun, portrayed by Oscar-nominated actress Keira Knightley in the new film, Official Secrets


Gun's incredible story—virtually unknown in the US—begins in the UK during her service in the Government Communications Headquarters (Britain's version of Washington's National Security Agency). On a fateful day in 2003, a message flashed across the screen of her GCHQ computer. The memo, written by a US intelligence agent named "Frank Koza," revealed a secret US/UK plot to blackmail United Nations delegates into supporting a resolution backing a US attack on Iraq. In the memo, Koza (who was identified as "Def Chief of Staff (Regional Targets") spoke of "mounting a surge" to obtain a "gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals" by conspiring to "revive/create efforts against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters." 

As an intelligence employee, Gun immediately realized the memo-writer was proposing: a high-level campaign to blackmail members of the UN into supporting an illegal act of aggression.  

At the time, the prospect of a US-instigated attack on Baghdad, was immensely unpopular. Anti-war protests and marches had blossomed around the world. On February 15, 2003, as many as 11 million people in more than 650 cities worldwide, marched for peace. Katharine Gun was one of those who joined the protest. "The Day the World Said No to War" remains the largest political demonstration in human history. 

Looking at the memo, Gun was appalled. It appeared that—despite the massive protests and a lack of UN cover—Washington and London were determined to "lie the people into war." 

The movie is packed with the stuff of spy thrillers but, this time, it's for real. There really are powerful operatives (like "Frank Koza") who "do not officially exist." There really are powerful agents in the intelligence, government, and business communities who have hidden identities, who speak in codes, who toy with truth and lies, and people whose power allows them to issue a threat simply by stating "I cannot confirm or deny"—delivered with a threatening smile. 

In Official Secrets, Knightley alternatively frets and fumes as she attempts to decide how to handle the Koza Memo. She's both outraged and terrified. She feels the need to act but she's understandably fearful about the consequences. Eventually, that single incriminating page is duplicated and shared, leaving Gun to deal with whatever unknown consequences her act of conscientious defiance will deliver. 

In the film, Gun is almost always surrounded by encroaching shadows—whether sitting at her dimly-lit GCHQ cubicle, cuddling with her Kurdish husband in a dark bedroom, or perched on a sofa in a living room lit only by the glow of a TV screen showing PM Tony Blair openly lying to the British people about "Saddam's threat." 

When Gun finally decides to spare her fellow workers from the stress of mass interrogations and threat of lie-detector sessions, her future seems even bleaker. 

She has violated the Official Secrets Act, a law that, as a member of the GCHQ, she had sworn to obey. 

Ordered to participate in a grilling by an ominous-looking GCHQ interrogator, Gun finally manages to pull herself out a prolonged pond of uncertainty and fear and places her feet on solid, moral ground. In one of those great moments of moral cinema, she rebukes her interrogator with a speech that echoes some of the fire in Mario Savio's "Put your bodies on the gears" speech on the steps of Sproul Hall. 

Upon being warned that she is supposed to be "working for the British government," Gun looks her challenger straight in the eye and proclaims: 

"Government's change. I work for the British people. I gather intelligence so that the government can protect the British people. I do not gather intelligence so that the government can lie to the British people.  

I don't object to being asked to collect information that could help protect a terror attack. What I object to is being asked to gather intelligence to help fix a vote at the UN and deceive the world into going to war.…  

By attacking Iraq, you do not simply attack Saddam Hussein. You attack a country of over 30 million people and I cannot bear to think of the pain and suffering that that will cause. Frankly, I don't see how anyone can bear it." 

Another memorable moment comes when George W. Bush tells the American people that the US has commenced it's "Shock and Awe" bombing of Iraq's capital in order to "disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger." We now know that everything Bush is saying is a lie. And we wind up wondering "How come the people behind this evil, illegal war are not the ones facing jail time?" 

It must have been especially crushing for Gun to hear Bush's words: "Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly, yet our purpose is sure. The people of the US and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder." 

In real-life footage from the Oval Office, Bush is seen falsely claiming that Washington's goal is simply to help "Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country. . . . We have no ambition in Iraq except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people…." 

Addressing the US troops he has ordered to bomb, invade, and occupy Iraq, Bush proclaims: "In this conflict, America faces an enemy that has no regard for conventions of war or rules of morality" and adds: "The people you liberate will witness the honorable and decent spirit of the American military. . . . We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace." 

As Bush glorifies America as an innocent party dedicated to peace, we see video footage of US bombs barreling into to buildings across Baghdad, turning the city into an exploding inferno that leaves the bodies of civilians ripped apart and scattered on the streets. 

Gun's only hope lies with a volunteer team of lawyers (lead by Ralph Fiennes) that is constrained by an Official Secrets Act that forbids them from discussing the details of the alleged crime with the defendant. Undaunted, they conceive an inspired work-around involving the legality of waging wars. 

Official Secrets also offers a nail-biting subplot involving Gun's husband, who is targeted for deportation by the UK government as a means of attacking Gun. 

And, the conclusion of Official Secrets, in which Gun stands alone before a dimly-lit courtroom and is asked how she pleads—leads to a surprising, and supremely satisfying, twist. 

Also: following a pattern established in Oliver Stone's 2016 film, Snowden, Official Secrets ends with an appearance of the movie's real-life protagonist, Katharine Gun herself. 

As a parting note, here is Daniel Ellsberg's review of Gun: 

"No one else—including myself—has ever done what Katharine Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it. Hers was the most important—and courageous—leak I've ever seen, more timely and potentially more effective than the Pentagon Papers." 

Official Secrets opens at the Embarcadero on September 6. 

Also at the Shattuck Landmark Theater in Berkeley. 

And the AMC Bay 16 in Emeryville. 

Tickets may be purchased here: https://www.officialsecrets.movie/tickets/ 

Related Stories 

Film ‘Official Secrets’ is the Tip of a Mammoth Iceberg 

Sam Husseini, Consortium News 

"I never set out to be a whistleblower": Katharine Gun tells the true story of "Official Secrets," Andrew O'Hehir, Salon 



Strategic Sarcastic Snorting and Other Equal Opportunities for Expression in Government

Becky O'Malley
Saturday September 07, 2019 - 11:58:00 AM

The reality TV show of the year played out last week in London. British media, including The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, kindly made it available to American viewers—and was it a trip!

My favorite exchange in the British House of Parliament on Wednesday went something like this:

“How can we trust the honorable Prime Minister since he’s been twice sacked for lying?”

Objections were then raised, calling for a ruling by the guy who yells Orrdurr, Orrdurr at the beginning of the session and frequently thereafter, who’s called The Speaker.

The outcome, apparently, was that it’s okay to accuse someone of past crimes on the floor of the House of Parliament, but not of current transgressions since they can’t defend themselves in real time. Or something like that.

One reason I enjoy watching debates in the British House is that I’m never quite sure what’s going on. It took me a long time to realize that saying Conservative members who voted against Boris Johnson’s expressed wishes were “denied the whip” meant that they were being kicked out of the Conservative Party. How harsh is that?

If you’d like the hilarious Cliff Notes version of that debate, check out Steven Colbert’s excerpt, featuring The Speaker: 


If you’d like to share the full experience, video can be found on YouTube: 


It was beyond impressive to hear the diverse members who had the nerve to vote together against Johnson’s no-deal Brexit speak up for what they believe—everyone from Winston Churchill’s grandson to the Scottish National Party member. Their dialects mapped their diversity, but they’re all great talkers. 

And it was impossible not to contrast their free and open expression of conflict with the wussy rules which lately prevail on the Berkeley City Council, scheduled to resume meeting next Tuesday after its traditional lengthy summer break. 

From the Berkeley City Council Rules: 

“Decorum: No person shall disrupt the orderly conduct of the Council meeting. Prohibited disruptive behavior includes but is not limited to shouting, making disruptive noises, such as boos or hisses, creating or participating in a physical disturbance, speaking out of turn or in violation of applicable rules, preventing or attempting to prevent others who have the floor from speaking, preventing others from observing the meeting, entering into or remaining in an area of the meeting room that is not open to the public, or approaching the Council Dais without consent.” 

Any British Parliamentarian (member of Parliament) would be tossed out in a hot minute. Every time lately when Mad Dog Prime Minister Boris Johnson says anything, he’s greeted with, yes, shouting and disruptive noises, including boos and hisses. 

In contrast, the Berkeley City Council’s order of march is mediated by electronics controlled by the Mayor, and interruptions are strictly prevented. 

But when a British Member speaks, any colleague who wants to interrupt just stands up, and the speaker has the option of accepting or rejecting the interruption, with the former the more likely choice. I haven’t watched enough meetings to know whether the linguistic observation of Deborah Tannen and others that women are more often interrupted than men holds true in this context, but I expect it does. In a recent essay, Tannen noted that “Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California was repeatedly interrupted by male colleagues during two different senate hearings.” British women, though, do their own share of effective interruptions in Parliament. 

Here in Berkeley, forthright Councilmember Cheryl Davila takes a lot of grief from the blogosphere commentariat for her blunt observations from the dais, which are sometimes punctuated with euphemisms for profanities. The presiding mayor tsk-tsks her frequently, but she hangs in there when she needs to make an important point. Councilmember Kate Harrison does a pretty fair job of restraining herself when foolish things are said in meetings, but every so often she can’t resist setting someone straight with her intelligent analysis of a problem—something she should be encouraged to do more often. 

But the booby prize for fauxny civility goes to the city of Santa Cruz. In that town there’s now a recall effort against two of the four progressive City Council members, who are accused, among other things, of supporting rent control (exactly as they’d promised to do in their campaigns.) And also, recall backers (among them registered Republicans) have alleged that both are mouthy on occasion. 

Well, maybe. 

According to accounts on the Santa Cruz Local news site, the city’s Human Resources Department engaged an outside attorney, to the tune of $18,000 and more, to investigate charges by four women, a couple of unnamed city employees, a councilmember and the city’s centrist mayor, that Councilmembers Chris Krohn and Drew Glover had somehow (hmmm!) dissed them because of their gender. 

The lawyer investigated seven putative claims against Glover and six against Krohn. He was only able to substantiate one minor beef against each of them. 

Obviously Glover’s real offense was being Assertive While Black (which also applies to Berkeley Councilmember Davila). He had a minor argument with an older White female councilmember over the use of a meeting room, and she told the investigator he’d been “aggressive”. 

The attorney conceded in his report that Glover had been bit rude on occasion, but found no reason to conclude that it was because of the gender of the other party. All four complainers were women, but the investigator found no connection between their gender and the charged interactions. According to Santa Cruz Local, “in a February city council meeting [Mayor Martine Watson] said she felt bullied by Glover and Krohn because she’s a woman.” That complaint wasn’t substantiated, nor were any of the other gender-based accusations. 

The single sustained complaint against Krohn was even more trivial. Here’s Santa Cruz Local’s report: 


“The investigator found one complaint against Krohn to be substantiated: that Krohn was disrespectful to a city staffer by interrupting the staffer with a sarcastic laugh when the staffer said something like ‘in my professional opinion.’ The staffer was giving a presentation with which Krohn disagreed.  

“The report concluded that Krohn’s 'laugh, scoff, or snort was severe and egregious, and violated the city’s Respectful Workplace Conduct Policy' because it was directed at the messenger, and not the message.” 


But snorting happens sometimes in governmental circles even at the highest levels. 


Evidently the attorney (and the Santa Cruz officials) missed the viral video where “ANGELA MERKEL SNORTS AS DONALD TRUMP SAYS HE HAS 'GERMAN IN MY BLOOD' “.  

And of course, laughing, scoffing and snorting galore happen all the time in Parliament. But evidently, not in Santa Cruz. 

Here I must confess that I’ve got a horse in this race. I happen to be Chris Krohn’s mother-in-law, and as such I find gender-based allegations against him particularly ludicrous. No mother-in-law would say that her son-in-law is without faults, but sexism is not one of Chris’s. 

He was the home-based parent caregiver for his girls for many years. He was Mayor of Santa Cruz when his first daughter was a toddler, and he conducted some meetings with her on his lap. When Daughter Number 2 was born, he took a leave of absence from public service, which he resumed when she reached high school. 

In the 25-plus years I’ve known him, he has always treated women, including me, his wife and my granddaughters, with the utmost respect as equals. This means, among other things, that he’ll argue with us every bit as vigorously as he argues with men, and so he should. 

As a feminist, I resent women who seem to be demanding privileged treatment because of their gender. 

We can’t have it both ways. Harry Truman said it best: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” 

The female Santa Cruz officials who’ve been crusading against these two progressive male councilmembers should set aside some time to watch the British women members debating in Parliament to get an idea of how women can participate in vigorous political discourse as equals, instead of being, yes, snowflakes, in a hot kitchen. 

They might even learn from Chancellor Merkel the strategic value of issuing an emphatic snort when the occasion demands it. It's a equal opportunity tactic--women can do it too. 


Public Comment

September Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Saturday September 07, 2019 - 12:24:00 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: Europe: The Water Crisis Comes Home

Conn Hallinan
Sunday September 08, 2019 - 11:12:00 AM

  • On Aug. 18, several dozen people gathered around a patch of snow in Iceland to commemorate the demise of the Okjokull glacier, a victim of climate change. Further to the west, Greenland shed 217 billion tons of ice in the month of July alone.
  • Paris reached 108.7 degrees on July 25, and normally cold, blustery Normandy registered 102 degrees. Worldwide, July 2019 was the hottest month on record.
  • Melting Russian permafrost—which makes up two-thirds of the country—is buckling roads, collapsing buildings, and releasing massive amounts of methane, a gas with the ten times the climate-warming potential of carbon dioxide,
  • Some 1.500 residents of Whaley Bridge were recently evacuated when a dam—overwhelmed by intense rainfall that pummeled northern England—threatened to break. The rains washed out roads and rail lines and swamped homes and business.
Ever since coal was partnered with water to generate steam and launch the industrial revolution, Europeans have been pouring billions of tons of atmospheric warming compounds into the planet’s atmosphere. While scientists were aware of the climate-altering potential of burning hydrocarbons as early as 1896, the wealth generated by spinning jennies, power looms and drop forges was seductive, as was the power it gave countries to build colonial empires and subjugate populations across the globe.

But the bill is finally coming due. 

When most people think of climate change, what come to mind are the poles, Asia’s fast vanishing glaciers, or Australia, where punishing droughts are drying up the sub-continent’s longest river, the Murray. But climate change is an equal opportunity disrupter, and Europe is facing a one-two punch of too much water in the north and center and not enough in the south. 

According to recent projections, drought regions in Europe will expand from 13 percent of the continent to 26 percent and last four times as long, affecting upwards of 400 million people. Southern France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece will be particularly hard hit, though how hard will depend on whether the planet’s temperature hike is kept to 1.5 degrees centigrade or rises to 3 degrees centigrade. 

Northern and Central Europe, on the other hand, will experience more precipitation and consequent flooding. Upward of a million people would be effected and damage would run into the hundreds of billions of Euros. While weather is battering away at Europe, sea rises of from four to six feet over the next century would inundate Copenhagen, the Netherlands, many French and German ports and London. If the Greenland ice sheet actually melted, the oceans would come up 24 feet. 

Food production will be another casualty. According to David Wallace-Wells in “The Uninhabitable Earth,” cereal crops will decline 10 percent for every degree the temperature goes up. When crops fail, people will move and the logical place to go is north. It is not just war and unrest that is driving refugees toward Europe, but widespread crop failures brought about by too little or too much water. 

The warming climate also allows insects, like the bark beetle, to attack Europe’s forests. The beetles are increasingly active in the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Norway and, particularly, Russia, which host the largest temperate forests in the world. 

Each tree that dies is one less carbon sink to transmute CO2 to oxygen. And dead trees are also more susceptible to forest fires, which can pump yet more of the climate warming gas into the atmosphere. Fires are not only increasing in countries like Spain, Greece and Portugal, but also in Sweden and Finland. 

For many years climate change deniers—funded by hydrocarbon industry think tanks and sophisticated media campaigns—managed to inject a certain amount of doubt concerning global warming, but a rash of devastating hurricanes and last year’s wildfires in California have begun to shift public opinion. Last spring’s European elections saw Green parties all over the continent do well, and polls indicate growing alarm among the public. 

A number of different European parties, including the British Labour Party, are pushing a “Green New Deal For Europe” based on a call by the United Nations to reduce green house gas emissions to zero by 2050. 

The European Green Deal proposes using public investment banks to fund much of the plan, which is aimed at keeping rising temperatures to 1.5 degrees centigrade. While the price for rolling back emissions will certainly be high, the costs for not doing so are far greater, including the possibility that worldwide temperatures could go by as much as 5 degrees centigrade, a level that might make much of the world unlivable for human beings. 

A jump of that magnitude would be similar to the kind of temperature rise the world experienced at the end of the Permian Era, 250 million years ago. Called the “Great Extinction,” it killed 96 percent of life in the sea and 70 percent on land. 

A major reason for the Permian die off was the expansion of cynobacteria, which produce a toxic cocktail that can kill almost anything they comes in contact with. Such cynobacteria blooms are already underway in more than 400 places throughout the world, including a large dead zone in the Baltic Sea. Some New York lakes have become so toxic that the water is fatal to pets that drink from them. 

The major fuel for cynobacteria is warm water coupled with higher rainfall—one of the consequences of climate change—that washes nutrients into lakes and rivers. 

Of the 195 countries that signed the Paris Climate Accords, only seven are close to fulfilling their carbon emission pledges. And one of the world’s biggest sources of global warming gasses, the US, has withdrawn. If all 195 countries met their goals, however, the climate is still on target to reach 3 degrees Celsius. Even if the rise can be kept to 2 degrees, it will likely melt the Greenland ice cap and possibly the Antarctic ice sheets. Greenland’s melt would raise ocean levels by 24 feet, the Antarctic by hundreds of feet. 

As overwhelming as the problem seems, it can be tackled, but only if the world mobilizes the kind of force it did to fight World War II. It will, however, take a profound re-thinking of national policy and the economy. 

The US organization most focused on climate change these days is the Pentagon, which is gearing up to fight the consequences. But our enormous defense apparatus is a major part of the problem, because military spending is carbon heavy. According to Brown University’s “Cost Of War” project, the Pentagon is the single largest consumer of hydrocarbons on the planet. Yet a number of European countries—under pressure from the Trump administration—are increasing their military spending, exactly the wrong strategy to combat the climate threat. 

The world will need to agree that keeping hydrocarbons in the ground is essential. Fracking, tar sands and opening yet new sources for oil and gas in the arctic will have to halt. Solar, hydro and wind power will need to be expanded, and some very basic parts of the economy re-examined. 

This will hardly be pain free. 

For instance, it takes 1,857 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, compared to 469 gallons for a pound of chicken. Yogurt uses 138 gallons. While beef production uses 60 percent of agricultural land, it only provides 2 percent of human caloric intake. 

It is unlikely that people will give up meat—although growing economic inequality has already removed meat from the diet of many—but what we eat and how we produce it will have to be part of any solution. For instance, a major source of green house gases is industrial agriculture with its heavy reliance on chemical fertilizers. 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, close to 30 percent of food production goes to waste, most of it in wealthy countries. A fair distribution of food supplies would not only feed more people, it would use less land, thus cutting green house gasses up to 10 percent. Add to that curbing beef production, and hundreds of millions of square miles of grange land would be freed up to plant carbon absorbing trees. 

Can this be done incrementally? It may have to be, but not for long. Climate change is upon us. What that future will be is up to the current generation to figure out, and while there is no question that concerted action can make a difference, the clock is ticking. When next the bell tolls, it tolls for us all. 


Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com 










ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Those Not Deemed 'Psychotic' Develop Delusional Systems, Too

Jack Bragen
Sunday September 08, 2019 - 11:22:00 AM

A psychotic person is often described as "delusional" and "disconnected from reality." However, it is very easy and quite common for those in the general public to be delusional. The main difference, I think, is that a person considered normal doesn't ignore the five senses to the extent that they can't function. 

I've seen evidence of misconceptions about who I am. But that also could be part of my own delusional system. So, instead of talking about myself, I am going to give examples of delusional people who are outside arm's length from me. 

Some religious practices, according to some psychiatrists, are thought to be delusional. Many psychiatrists ascribe to atheistic beliefs. Thus, when they see people worship, psychiatrists may consider it delusional. 

(It is important, even if tangential, to note here that many great scientists in history and in modern times have been religious, in many instances, Christian. There does not have to be a conflict between believing in science versus having religious beliefs. For example, Gregor Johann Mendel, who founded modern genetics, was an abbot.) 

If you look at modern day or recent New Age Spirituality groups, such as the teachings of Ken Keyes Jr., some of the material works, but some of it is out to lunch. The fact that New Age Spirituality systems interfered with the basic survival of practitioners could be a factor in why these groups have largely lost popularity. 

Atheism and some forms of Christianity seem like opposite poles of belief, neither of which seems to adequately describe reality. Human beings who completely defy obvious facts, such as those who have chosen to get violent about opposing vaccinations, are delusional. 

The criminal justice system, while touted by participants as fact-based, gets it wrong about half the time. That system also has its own dialect, which carries connotations of tremendous hostility and inhumanity. 

Our monetary system has its own language. What, after all, is a "fictitious business name," if not fiction? Is a corporation really a person? If you don't speak it well, you are rendered impoverished. 

Nazism was and is a collective delusional system, and Holocaust deniers have asserted that the Holocaust was a mass hallucination. Do you believe them? Or do you believe the remaining hard evidence of this atrocity that they haven't gotten to and destroyed? 

The human mind is designed to see what it wants to see, and anything to the contrary is ignored. 

Religious extremists often believe that anyone except members of their own group are evil and should be eliminated. Those who perpetrated the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centers were willing to die for their cause. They probably believed that western civilization is evil. And, while there is some amount of evil in western civilization, it is no more than found in any grouping of people one might look at. 

Deluded non-mentally ill people often think simplistically. Some have asserted that the Moon landings were a giant hoax. Some believe firmly in wide, baseless generalizations. Simplistic thought is at the root of things like racism, and the prejudice against disabled people. Some affluent people presume they are affluent because they are better. Or, they might think they are better because they are affluent. 

Trump, promulgater of lies, can fool conservatives and has increased the level of delusional load under which Americans function. This is a time in which people in the U.S. are out of touch with reality. Reinstating reality will be a very challenging task, for whoever inherits power after Trump is out of office. 

Psychotic people can be right some of the time. Just because a person suffers from a disabling condition affecting the mind, it doesn't mean that our minds can't do anything. Strengthening the mind through brain intensive tasks can lead to a person with psychotic tendencies to otherwise have a very good mind. 

A person considered psychotic is more normal than many people think. The ability of the human mind to believe things that are obviously false means that psychotic people are the same as normal people, we've just taken illusion a bit too far. 

The role of medication and other treatment is to increase the emphasis of one's surroundings, and to weaken emphasis on the internal. This causes many patients' delusions to scale back. At some point, we should learn to trust ourselves again. Yet this step must be taken with some precautions.

ECLECTIC RANT: Climate crisis: action, not hope needed

Ralph E. Stone
Sunday September 08, 2019 - 11:26:00 AM

Perhaps, our youth like Greta Thunberg will lead the world in fighting the climate crisis. On August 30, 2019, Swedish teen activist Ms. Thunberg was joined by a crowd of other young people outside the United Nation headquarters in New York City, in furtherance of the youth environmental movement. Two days earlier, Ms. Thunberg and two other teens arrived aboard a carbon-free yacht after a two-week transatlantic boat crossing. She will attend the UN climate summits in New York later this month, and in Santiago, Chile, in December. Her message is simple: she wants a concrete plan, not just nice words to fight climate crisis.

Empirical evidence shows that the climate crisis is real and is largely caused by man. This is not a theory; it is a fact. If someone tells you that this is not true, then they are lying or stupid or stand to make lots of money by ignoring it. By denying climate change, you have an excuse to do little or nothing about it. Climate change is no longer about science; it is now a political, economic, social debate. In other words, what do we do about the crisis now? 

It has long been known that humans impact our atmosphere severely and our unrelenting production of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) increase the effects of the naturally occurring "greenhouse effect" that keeps our planet habitable. The more CO2 we pump into our atmosphere, the warmer the atmosphere gets. This is a scientific fact based on decades of scientific study. The main cause of the increase in global average temperatures in recent history is not because of any natural cycle -- although natural cycles do exist -- it is because of man. 

Earth is noticeably hotter, the weather stormier and more extreme. Polar regions have lost billions of tons of ice; sea levels have been raised by trillions of gallons of water. Far more wildfires rage. The world’s annual temperature has warmed nearly 1 degree (0.54 degrees Celsius). And the temperature in the U.S. has gone up even more — nearly 1.6 degrees. 

NASA satellites have shown three inches of sea level rise in just the past 25 years. With more than 70% of the Earth covered by oceans, a 3-inch increase means about 6,500 cubic-miles of extra water, enough to cover the entire U.S. with water about 9 inches deep. 

In California, for example, scientists predict that in less than 30 years, rising waters will flood about 30,000 homes along the state’s shoreline. This will have a major impact on real estate and housing with the real estate value of the threatened homes estimated to be $15 billion statewide. 

Under President Donald Trump, the federal government is doing nothing. Rather, he is exacerbating the crisis. Trump has had a lot of things to say about global warming: the “concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” When he became president, his true intention became clear when he quickly signed an executive order rolling back key Obama-era limits on greenhouse gas emissions. And then he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, signed by 176 countries and the European Union. 

Recently, the Trump administration rescinded environmental rules governing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, making this the 84th environmental rule this administration has worked to repeal.  

Trump was noticeably absent from last month’s G-7 climate meeting in Biarritz, France, demonstrating once again his lack of interest in fighting climate change. 

With so much at stake, why is the Trump administration, and too many in Congress, not addressing climate change head on? It is no mystery to me. These so-called climate change deniers have made a self-interested political decision, rather than a scientific one. By denying climate change, they have an excuse to do little or nothing about it; they don't want to alienate their friends in the fossil fuel industry,  

It is not coincidental that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and 21 other Republicans, whose campaigns have collected more than $10 million in oil, gas and coal money since 2012, sent a letter to the president urging him to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  

It is way past time for the Trump administration to develop and implement an action plan at the federal level. We must put public health and the environment ahead of corporate interests. Planet Earth is our home; we have no place to evacuate to if our home becomes uninhabitable.  

For a frightening must read about climate change, see Losing Earth: The Decade we almost stopped climate change. A tragedy in two acts, by Nathaniel Rich; Photographs by George Steinmetz. 

Listen to our youth, it’s their future too. 

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Sunday September 08, 2019 - 11:24:00 AM

Trumpism Erupts at 7-Eleven Standoff

A young African-American fellow takes up a panhandling position outside a 7-Eleven in Berkeley. Not an unfamiliar sight. But last Sunday, I was unprepared for what happened after I held the door open for one of the store managers who was preparing to walk outside carrying a plastic bucket.

To my astonishment, he proceeded to confront the panhandler, yelling: "Get off my damn property!" And then threw a bucket of cold water in the young man's face.

There was a tense standoff as the two men "stood their ground" and exchanged angry glares. But what really surprised me was the shopkeeper's next outburst.

"Go back to where you came from!" he shouted.

However (unlike Trump), he shouted it with a perceptible foreign accent.

(It could have been worse. The bucket only contained water and it was a hot day so it was one of those rare cases where an attack could be seen as a refreshing experience.) 

Lights Out at the White House 

The announced rollback of federal laws promoting the use of energy efficient lighting provides more evidence that Donald J. Trump is the biggest Dim Bulb to ever darken the Oval Office. He is the hifalutin, sky-pollutin' answer to the question: How many Trumps does it take to screw up a planet? 

What next? Heating the White House with coal-burning stoves? 

Unofficial Secrets of a Film Reviewer 

Official Secrets—the new film about Britain's role in helping George W. Bush bribe, coerce, and lie his way into an illegal attack on Iraq—ends on an odd note. Two, actually. 

It's first ending echoes the conclusion of Oliver Stone's masterful good-guy-spy thriller, Snowden. Stone's film ends with the camera on the face of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the actor who plays Snowden onscreen) bent over a computer keyboard. As the camera pans to the right, Gordon-Levitt's faces is slowly eclipsed by the back of the monitor. When the finally camera completes its tracking and pulls away from the backside of the computer, we discover a new face bent over the keyboard—this time it's the real Edward Snowden. That was a walloping-good bit of moviemaking. 

Official Secrets has a similar ending: a surprise shot of the real Katharine Gun addressing the press outside a courthouse. From the surprise news clip, we discover the real Katharine Gun was an engaging and smiling young blond. So why did director Gavin Hood opt to turn Gun into a brooding brunette? 

Second question: Why does director Hood follow up by adding a second ending in which he returns to an earlier scene set on a beach and an second encounter between two lawyers who became estranged over the moral and political issues of Gun's case? So, instead of ending with the vibrant spontaneity of the real Katharine Gun, Official Secrets ultimately ends with Gun's movie-star attorney (played by Ralph Fiennes—full name, Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes) telling his former partner: "Go find somewhere else to fish." 

Chasing the Money 

A full-page newspaper ad for JPMorgan/Chase Bank recently boasted about how the bank's investments "in housing renovations and job training" had created a job for a Bayview resident named Yomo Shaw. Looking for more details, I checked out the small print at the bottom. It advised that: 

"Chase J.P. Morgan and JPMorgan Chase are marketing names for certain businesses of JPMorgan Case & Co. and its affiliates and subsidiaries worldwide (collectively, "JPMC", "We", "Our" or "Us", as the context may require)."  

This raises a question: How much money did a team of top-end legal consultants pull in for crafting that sentence? 

This Liz Is Not a Lazy Lady 

Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign staff was delighted to tap into a news leak revealing that Donald Trump had been asking his enablers if Elizabeth Warren is a “fighter.” Sounds like Champ Trump is feeling nervous.
Is Liz a fighter? Well, just listen to her campaign team: "She took on the big banks, and she won. She took on Wall Street CEOs, and she won. And not only is she a fighter, but she’s also got a grassroots movement with her—built day by day, person by person through 127 events, over 50,000 selfies, and over a million grassroots donations." 

Very impressive, for sure. Warren might even have racked up more selfies than Mr. All-about-Me Trump. A hair-raising development. 


Juul has shelled out $4.5 million for TV ads to support a ballot initiative that would overturn San Francisco's ban on sales of vaping devices to youngsters. Hoping to make their pitch sound progressive, Juul has funded a front group called the Coalition for Reasonable Vaping Regulation, which is promoting a campaign to "Regulate, Don't Ban." 

The CRVR's TV ads dismiss attempts to ban nicotine-filled e-cigarettes as useless "political exercises" and "bla-bla-blah talking points." Instead, Juul's ads propose that the only way to keep vape-sticks out of the hands of kids is to require hundreds of SF shopkeepers to acquire special battery-powered, hand-held devices that can scan a special ID card to determine whether or not the customer is "Under Age." 

In the TV ad, a young would-be customer is found out by a burly clerk who waves his scanner, scowls at the card, and growls, "No way." Denied service, the sour-faced teen sulks and exits, joining his disappointed friends outside. 

So what's with "the card"? Does JUUL's ballot measure propose creating a special RFID-chipped ID card that will be issued to everyone in who might wish to the purchase any questionable or banned commodity? How would that work? Would everyone—kids and adults—be required to obtain one of these cards? Or would they only be required for people under 21? 

But if it were the latter case, that would mean that the only people required to carry the cards would be the youngsters who would not be allowed to buy vapers in the first place. And that means that simply showing that you had the card would establish that you're ineligible to make a purchase. So, in the TV ads, the shopkeeper doesn't have to scan the magic card since any teen pulling out the card would self-incriminate—providing proof that he or she was, ipso facto, too young to legally purchase the goods. 

Besides, kids already know that an ID card belonging to an adult can be easily shared with a teen. If so, the folks behind Juul's ad campaign had better re-edit the commercial to show an ID card that includes a photo of the cardholder. 

But wait—don't we already have such cards? Yes: they're called a "driver's license." 

Bottom line: Profiting by turning teens into nicoteens is a JUUL crime that calls for some serious JAIL time. 

Holy Cross 

Legendary Berkeley gadabout and replacement hipster Arnie Passman recently posed the intriguing question: "Have you ever come across anyone named Christian Cross"? 

Well, it seems likely that, over the centuries, someone must have shared that name but according to Google: not. 

There is a guitar maestro named Christopher Cross. There was a 1993 TV show called Chris Cross. And an American hip-hop duo from the 1990s called Kris Kross. And, in other news, Chancellor Carol T. Christ never raised a son named "Jesus." 

Them's Fightin' Words 

In the US, violence seems to be part of our DNA. It's certainly embedded in our national vocabulary. Even anti-war organizations have been guilty of trying to "rally the troops" by urging members to "join the battle" to end militarism and "fight to put an end to war." (As one esteemed linguist observed some time ago: "Fighting for peace is like f----ing for virginity.") 

Here are two recent examples of War Talk in all the wrong places. 

Friends of the Earth sent out a four-page 50th anniversary "eco news magazine" highlighting FOE's accomplishments since Berkeley's Dave Brower founded the organization a half-century ago. The newsletter bore the headline: "Celebrating 50 years of fighting for people and the planet." 

Public Citizen President Robert Weissman recently sent out a message about a Medicare For All campaign in Texas. The email was headlined: "Hit Back on Medicare for All." 

Impeach Trump—Again and Again and Again 

On the very day that Donald J. Trump was inaugurated, RootsAction circulated a prescient petition calling for his impeachment. That petition has now garnered more than 1.2 million signatures. But RootsAction hasn't rested on its rep as an Impeachment Pioneer. Nope, RootsAction has since added 22 additional petitions citing even more reasons why Trump's second term should be a jail term. 

Here's the list: 

• Tell Congress to Impeach Trump for Illegally Withdrawing from the INF Treaty 

• Impeach Trump for Illegal Proliferation of Nuclear Technology 

• Trump Illegally Tried to Influence an Election: Impeach Him 

• Impeach Trump for Inciting Racist Violence 

• Impeach Trump Before He Starts a Nuclear War 

• Impeach Trump to Avoid WWIII 

• Use the Impeachment Lock on the Nuclear Button 

• Impeach Trump for Collusion with Israel 

• Impeach Trump Because He's Not Above the Law 

• Impeach Trump for What He Did to Texas and Puerto Rico 

• Impeach Trump for Separating Children from Families 

• Impeach Trump for Politicizing Prosecutions 

• Impeach Trump for Tax Fraud 

• Impeach Trump and Pence for Supporting a Coup in Venezuela 

• Impeach Trump for Unconstitutional Declaration of Emergency 

• Impeach Trump for Instructing Border Patrol to Violate the Law 

• Impeach Trump for Refusing to Comply with Subpoenas 

• Impeach Trump for Declaring a False Emergency to Violate the Will of Congress 

• Government Policy for Profits of a Crime Family? 

• Tell Chairman Nadler: Impeachment Hearings Now 

• Hey, Nancy Pelosi, Stop Blocking Impeachment 

• Impeach Trump on Numerous Grounds 

And, if you'd like to sign one or more of the above, the place to do it is here

Google's Goofs and Glitches 

And I've got the screen-shots to prove it! 

On July 18, I hopped onto Google Chrome and plugged in the link for a YouTube video into the search window. Instead of the video, I received an alert that stated: 

"You are connected to youtube.com, which is run by (unknown)." 

The next line declared the previous statement was "Verified by: Google Trust Services." 

Odd that Google doesn't know who owns YouTube—given that YouTube is owned by Google. 

On September 2, looking to send some emails to Berkeley's mayor and members of the City Council, I Googled: "Berkeley California mayor." In response, I received a line-up of four choice-options that ended with: "Mayor's Office, Milvia Street, Berkeley, California. Mayor Tom Bates, University Avenue, Berkeley, California." 

I think it's time Google abates that error. 

Do You Trust your Robot Teammate? 

The folks at Defense One have sent out an invite to watch a live-streamed discussion on the topic: "The Human/Machine Team and the Trust Variable." 

On September 17, a panel of "intelligence and national security subject matter experts" will "dialogue on how user self-confidence and trust are essential prerequisites for strong human-machine team performance." Among the topics: 

"The value of frameworks for mitigating machine bias" and "innovating while maintaining transparency between the human and machine." 

I'll pass. I learned all I need to know about human/machine cooperation by watching the first Terminator movie. 

And now, for an exercise in corporate-pentagon-speak: 


Favorite Name of the Month; 

The fall issue of AAA's Via Magazine featured a "smart guide" to locks in which a local security expert from San Francisco's SF Safe program advised: "You don't want to protect stuff worth thousands of dollars with a $9 lock." 

So sayeth SF's own Furlishous Wyatt. 

Keeping Up With Keef 

On September 1, comic artist Keith Knight (whose syndicated strip, "The Knight Life" appears in the Chronicle) rejoiced at the news that another strip was about to vanish. 

"The Good Ol' Days," long a target of Keith's wrath, supposedly depicts an Antebellum South peopled by happy slaves and their benign masters. But try as I might, I have never been able to track down this disturbing strip. 

It is a fact that cartoonist Erwin L. Hess drew detailed history-based social panoramas under the title "The Good Old Days," but that series only ran from 1946 to 1981 while a Sunday color strip ran from 1952 and 1963—and neither seems to contain any reference to slaveholding. 

Baffled, I sent a note off to the cartoonist (who goes by the nickname, "Keef"), asking for a link to the offending cartoon strip "so I can check it out and let readers see why its demise is something to applaud." 

He responded within hours: 

"The strip in The Knight Life is made up. Didn’t know there was a real one!" 

So, on one hand, that's a relief. On the other: Why create a fictitious injustice when there are so many real problems to deal with? 


For a good historical survey of actual racist cartooning in America, check out "From 'Under Cork' to Overcoming: Black Images in the Comics," posted by Ferris State University's Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia

And for more on cartoonist-rapper-musician Keef Knight, take a look: 


Day in the Life: Gentleman Cartoonist from ConnectEd Studios on Vimeo.





Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, September 8 - 14

Adolfo C., Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Sunday September 08, 2019 - 11:03:00 AM

Worth Noting:

-- 3rd Annual Ride Electric Event is Saturday, Sept. 14. Get smart about electric vehicles and e-bikes, -see:


* * * *

Sunday, September 8, 2019 - No City meetings listed.

The Solano Stroll, from 10 am – 5 pm; - see:


Monday, September 9, 2019

Tax the Rich Rally, with music by Occupella, 5–6 pm at the Top of Solano Ave in front of the closed Oaks Theater. Rain or extreme heat cancels the event. 


Facilities, Infrastructure, Transportation, Environment & Sustainability Committee, at 10am-12 noon, at 2180 Milvia St.,On agenda: #2. Air Quailty Monitoring, #3.Ban discrimination via hairstyle or headwear, #4a&b.Recommended Code Enforcement Actions and justice for homeowner Leonard Powell. -See: 



City Council Agenda Committee Meeting at 2:30-3:30 pm, at 2180 Milvia St., Redwood Room. On agenda: #3. Selection of Item for Berkeley Considers Online Engagement; & Review Item: #8 Revison to Council Rules of Procedure and Order; - see: 

https://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Clerk/2019-09-09%20Agenda%20Packet%20-%20Agenda%20Committee.pdf --- 


Concurrent Meeting of Subcommittees: Parks and Waterfront, Measure-T1, &T-1 Landmarks Commissions, from 12:30-1:30 pm, at 2180 Milvia St., Cypress Conference Room, 1st Floor. Agenda: Civic Center Vision Implementation Plan; - see: 





Peace & Justice Commission, from 7-10 pm, at 2180 Milvia St., Cypress Room, 1st Floor. On agenda: #7. Resolution to expropriate private and corporate property to end homelessness; #8. letter to City Council in support of resolution endorsing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; --see: 



Courage Campaign will be going live on Facebook with the California Labor Federation on Monday, September 9, to discuss how passing Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5) will give California workers (like Lyft- Uber-& others) who are misclassified as independent contractors the rights they are due, like minimum wage, unemployment benefits, workers compensation, and more. 

Join Us Live on Monday, September 9 at 12pm PST as we stream live with the California Labor Federation at 



Tuesday, September 10, 2019 


Solano Ave Business Improvement District Advisory Board Meeting, from 11:30am-1 pm, at Thousand Oaks Baptist Church, at 1821 Catalina Ave.(& Colusa St). On agenda: #3.Public Events & Expenditures for 2020. --See: 



City Council Meeting at School Dist. Boardroom, 1231 Addison St. (& Browning St.) 

-- Special Meeting, from 5-6 pm, Conference with Counsel on 2 pending litigations, - see 



-- Regular Meeting, from 6-11pm. On agenda - (73 Items listed-- 38 Recess Items, 16 Consent Items, 19 Action Items) - 

On CONSENT : #1. Recess item - Reject all bids for John Hinkel Park Improvement Project – Negotiate in Open Market, # 5. Increase contract by $175,000 to $541,004 with Konica Minolta Business Solutions for annual renewal, maintenance and updates thru Sept 18, 2024, #6. Updated Commissioners’ Manual, #7. $600,000 for On-call graphic design contracts, #9. $12,590,000 Formal Bid solicitations RFP, #10. P.O. Aramark Uniform Rental and Laundry Service, $468,067 thru Jan 4, 2022, #11. $828,170 to Toshiba Managed Printed Services for citywide print and copy services for 3 yr coverage, #12. $85,721 to Berkeley Drop-in to operate homeless storage locker program, #13. $159,000 Dental Health Services to BUSD thru June 30, 2022, #15. $100,000 for consulting services to ensure implementation of Easy Does It audit findings, #16. State Minimum Wage Increases – Camps Classifications, #17. Berkeley Minimum Wage Increases, #18. Increase to $200,000 doe Computer Hardware and Software, #19. Add $99,700 for total $303,960 Geographic Technologies Group for Geographic Information System Master Plan contract Sept 14, 2016 – June 30, 2021, #21. $360,000 for 2 yr contract for portable toilets, with option to extend for 3-12 month periods thru Sept 30, 2024, total amount not to exceed $900,000, #22. $192,000 with Rincon Consultants, Inc. for Southside Initial Study and EIR for period of 16 months, #24. $250,000 to DC Electric, On-Call Electronic Traffic Calming Devices Maintenance Project, #25. Increase contract by $473,835 total $38,944,818 with C. Overaa & Co. for Center St Parking Garage, #26. Increase by $50,000 to $234,500 for On-Call Consulting with Northgate Environmental Management, #27. Game day Towing, #28. Agreement with East Bay Regional Park District for Tilden Park, #29. Green Infrastructure Plan Adoption, #30. Live Animal Sales disclosure requirements, #31. Provision of Wheelchair Charging for Homeless, #33. Outdoor Public Warning System, #35. 1281 University RFP for residential development for 50% on-site at 50% AMI or below, #36. 2019 Bi-annual report on Funding for Housing Programs, 39. Support AB 18 – Firearms Excise Tax. #44. Pavement Derby and Ward between Telegraph and Shattuck, #45–48. Budget referrals street repairs (Derby), lights (Sacramento/Oregon), crossing signals (Ashby/Fulton, Shattuck/Prince and Otis), #53. Voluntary Time Off for City Employees on Statewide Election Days, #54. Decriminalizing Entheogenic Plants, #55. Game Day Parking; 

- On ACTION: #56. Public Hearing Municipal Finance Authority Bond for Berkeley Way Affordable Housing, #57. Public Hearing CA Municipal Finance Authority Bond Financing for Berkeley Way HOPE Center, #58. Residential Parking McGee and Rose, #59. Preferential Parking fee increases, #60. Funding for Street Rehabilitation Capital Improvement Program, #51. Funding Street Rehab, #61. a.& b. Health Study on Health Disparities and Mortality of Berkeley Homeless, #62. a.&b. Analysis of Increasing Inclusionary Housing over Affordable Housing Mitigation Fee, #63 a.&b. Utilization of 1281 University for RV dwellers, #64. a.&b. Expansion of Adeline Corridor Plan to include in private component housing for extremely low-income persons, #65. Open Doors Initiative: City Worker and First Time Affordable Homebuyer Program, 66. Referral Response: Lava Mae Mobile Shower and Hygiene Services, #67. Wage Theft Program; --see 



350.org invites us all to hear more info about the nation-wide Climate Strike For Climate Justice from some impressive climate speakers. Add your name to register for the Hype Webinar Tuesday, September 10, at 8 pm ET - (5 pm PST) -- visit: 



Wednesday, September 11, 2019 


Homeless Commission Regular Meeting, from 7-9 pm, at 2180 Milvia St., Cypress Conference Room, 1st Floor. On agenda: #7. Update on Pathways Program, #8.On Numbers of Homelss Families, #9.On Income Discrimination, #10.On Affodable Housing Framework; - see: 




Parks and Waterfront Commission, from 7-9pm, at Frances Albrier Center, San Pablo Park, at 2800 Park St. (& Oregon St). On agenda: #8. Update on Measure T-1 funds, #9. On Public Process schedule of projects, #10. On Adopt-A-Spot & Volunteer program, #11. Recommendations on comme\rcial dog-walkers & 6-dog limit, #12. Aquatic Park water quality issues; - see: 



Thursday, September 12, 2019 


City Council Budget & Finance Committee Meeting - CANCELLED - see: 



Medical Cannabis Commission Meeting, from 2-4 pm, at 2180 Milvia St., in Redwood Room. On agenda: Cannabis Equity Program Information, -see: 



Community Environmental Advisory Commission (CEAC) Regular Meeting, from 7-9 pm, Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch Library, 1901 Russell Street (at MLK-Jr Way). On agenda: #1. Bird Safety &Dark Sky Ordinance, #2-3-4. a On Year-2045 Prohibitions on Combustion (fossil fuels) Vehicles Uses, ReSale & Gasoline Sales. #7. BeeCity Initiative, #9.Plastic Reduction Research; - see: 



Zoaning Adustment Board Meeting, from 7-11 pm, at the School Dist. Board Room, 1231 Addison St. (at Browning St). 

On agenda: 

- 2873-Sacramento St, to enlarge 2-story 920-sq/ft building to 1934 sq/ft. to over 57% coverage. 

- 1835-San Pablo Av, to demolish & construct a new 6-story, mixed-use development with 99 units, 4 live/work units and 95 dwelling units, including 7 units for very low income, & stacked parking for 49 cars; 

- & Reports from JSISHL and DRC; - see: 




Tobacco Prevention Programs - FREE Quit Smoking Clinic, from 6-8 pm, at South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street (at Ashby Ave). For anyone 18-years & older--see: 





Friday, September 13, 2019 - No City meetings or civic events listed. 


Saturday, September 14, 2019 


Third Annual Ride Electric Event is Saturday, from 11 am–3 pm. Event includes electric vehicles and e-bikes information, -see: 



Sunday, September 15, 2019 - No City meetings or events listed. 


* * * * 

Also Worth Noting 


-- Postcarding with Indivisible East Bay, Monday, Sept.16, from 6:45-8:45 pm. Join us help to flip the flipable election districts at a member-home in the Oakland Glenview District. Please RSVP at 



-- Join and support the nation-wide Climate Strike and March on Friday, Sept. 20, from 10am at the SF Federal Building at 

#90-Seventh St. at Mission St. (take BART to Civic Center). For more information about the actions you can do through the week please visit our website at: <youthvsapocalypse.org> 


in Berkeley at 7 am, at the Pedestrian Bridge 598 University Ave (or via Addison St. near 2nd St.) --see: 



-- Family Game Night for All Ages, on Friday, Sept. 20, from 6-8pm. Bring your favorite gameboards or just join in. With 3 locations, Game Night will be held at Frances Albrier Community Center and Willard Clubhouse and James Kenney Community Center. --See: https://www.cityofberkeley.info/CalendarEventMain.aspx?calendarEventID=16284 


-- Music in the Parks, Saturday, Sep 21, from 1-4 pm, in Grove Park - Back 2 School Hip Hop Fest with 

Nef the Pharaoh, C5, and LOE Gino. Also spoken word by Flax from Youth Speaks, a break dance competition & include a hip hop dance battle, video games, a barber's corner, and more! -See: https://www.cityofberkeley.info/RecreationSpecialEvents/ 


-- International Shoreline Cleanup, Sept. 21, from 9am-12 noon, meet at Shorebird Park Nature Center, 160 University Avenue at Seawall Dr. All ages welcome. Bring gloves, sunscreen, water, and bags/ buckets. For more information, visit: 



BTU presents: Free Counseling w/ Tenant Attorneys, Thursday, Sept. 26, from 6-8 pm -- Deadline to sign-up is Friday, September 20 at 11:59 pm (i.e. the Friday before the event) -- At the Grassroots House, 2022 Blake St. (near Shattuck Ave) with housing counseling by professional tenant attorneys volunteering their time. -- See sign up page at: 



-- Wellstone Democratic Club presents “Policing in the East Bay: An Update”...on 

-The Oakland Police Commission; -- A New Sheriff in Town: the Continuing Efforts; --Strengthening Berkeley's Police Review Commission; & --Progress in California Criminal Justice Reform. 

Thursday, September 26, at 6:45 pm at Humanist Hall; 390 27th St (near Broadway) in Oakland. This is an open meeting at 6:45 pm--With a 6 pm potluck (please bring something to share if partaking.) Visit us at: <">http://wellstoneclub.org/



Notice of Decision (NOD) With End of Appeal Period 

180 B Alvarado 9-9-19 

999 Anthony8-21-19 

1533 Beverly 9-3-19 

1911 Fourth – 9-3-19 

1615 Francisco – 9-3-19 

2526 Hawthorne – 9-10-19 

2711 Mabel – 9-3-19 

641 Neilson – 9-16-19 

1727 Parker – 9-3-19 

1446 Scenic – 9-3-19 

1641 Seventh – 9-9-19; - see: 




Remanded to ZAB or LPC With 90-Day Deadline 

- 1155-73 Hearst (to develop 2 parcels) Referred back to City Council; to be scheduled 

- 2701 Shattuck Av (to construct 5-story mixed-use building), to ZAB (check date) 



Sept 17 – Arts and Culture Plan, - Zero Waste Rate Review, - Adeline Corridor Plan; 

Oct 22 – Berkeley’s 2020 Vision Update, - Census 2020 Update, - Short Term Rentals Info; 

Nov 5 - Transfer Station Feasibility Study, - Vision Zero Action Plan; 

Unscheduled – Cannabis Health Considerations 


Referral Response: Explore Grant Writing Services 


To Check For Regional Meetings with Berkeley Council Appointees go to 



To check for Berkeley Unified School District Board Meetings go to 



* * * *
This *Sustainable Berkeley Coalition civic meetings calendar is posted on the SBC website at 


and in the Berkeley Daily Planet under activist’s calendar at  


and it is also available at the Facebook pages of **Berkeley Progressive Alliance (BPA) and of the Berkeley Citizens Action (BCA) group. Also, visit the (BNC) Berkeley Neighborhoods Council link for other information on City and community activism at <http://berkeleyneighborhoodscouncil>