The Week



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. -more-



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: -more-

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! -more-


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. -more-

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. -more-

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? -more-

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.) -more-

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. -more-