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Pastor Decries Attempted Arson, Criticizes Berkeley Official Response

Becky O'Malley with Kelly Hammargren
Thursday July 30, 2020 - 06:05:00 PM

Pastor Michael McBride of The Way Christian Church was joined this morning by his brother Pastor Ben McBride and about 200 political and religious leaders in a press conference which spotlighted an apparent hate crime, an attempt to burn down the historically Black University Avenue church, which took place in the early hours of July 29. The meeting was Zoomed so that additional viewers could attend virtually, including this reporter.

Pastor McBride leads the LIVE FREE gun violence prevention campaign and co-founded the Black Church PAC He and his congregation have been active in the Black Lives Matter movement--the church had just put up a BLM banner over the front door. He recently spoke at a Berkeley City Council meeting about defunding the police.

Attendees at the gathering in the church parking lot could see the scorched place where trash cans had been ignited about 1:30 a.m. A neighbor, identified by Pastor McBride as a Mr. Gonzales, saw a shadowy figure who appeared to be pouring some flammable liquid into the cans before lighting them, and he called 911.

The fire was quickly extinguished by first responders, but the church officials complained that they were not promptly notified by city authorities. Police simply slipped a paper notice under the front door of the church, where it was not found by church members until the next morning.

Former Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport also spoke from the impromptu podium. Two other African-American political leaders were present,Councilmembers Ben Bartlett and Cheryl Davila.

Pastor McBride commented with some annoyance that he hadn’t received even a phone call from other civic officials who were not present, neither elected (Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin) nor employed (the city manager and the police chief.)  

Other clergy joined the press conference, including a rabbi from Kehila Synagogue and the pastor of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland.

Press Release: Arsonist Sets Fire to Church of Prominent Berkeley Pastor

Jennifer R. Farmer, SpotLight PR
Thursday July 30, 2020 - 08:55:00 AM

Pastor to Hold Press Conference on July 30 at 10:30 a.m. local time

BERKELEY, CA -- More than a year after a string of arsons obliterated Black churches in Louisiana, the congregation of a prominent Bay area pastor and racial justice advocate has been targeted by an arsonist. Pastor Michael McBride, who leads the LIVE FREE gun violence prevention campaign and who co-founded the Black Church PAC, received a call from one of his ministers the morning of July 29. The minister found burned trash bins and property damage to the church building. McBride, who has traveled the country challenging white supremacy, had just hung a Black Lives Matter banner from his church, The Way Church. Hours later the church was set afire. Photos show the aftermath of the blaze; trash cans set afire, the side of the church and the concrete in the surrounding area charred by fire.

Pastor McBride will host a press conference outside the church on Thursday, July 30 at 10:30 a.m. PST. Persons outside of Berkeley,can join the press conference via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_IiDgQZnCQB2L0eXr9NSWnw.

A neighbor reported seeing a suspicious person setting fire in the rear of the building. He and his roommate called the local fire department. Firefighters and police officers arrived and extinguished the blaze, yet failed to notify the pastor or other church officials.

McBride is now considering whether his decades long work challenging police brutality, registering people of faith to vote, or speaking out against white supremacy irritated the suspected arsonist, or whether they were angered by the Black Lives Matter sign hanging from the church. He is also questioning why the police department did not contact anyone regarding the fire at his church, opting instead to slide a card under the front door.

“For decades church fires were used as a means of terrorizing Black clergy and the Black community. I guess in Berkeley, it’s not something worthy of special attention by law enforcement officials” said Pastor Michael McBride, campaign director of the LIVE FREE gun violence prevention campaign and co-founder of the Black Church PAC. “Regardless of the intentions of the suspect, we will not be silenced or intimidated. Were it not for an alert and courageous neighbor, my entire church could have been burned to the ground.”

WHO: Pastor Michael McBride, The Way Christian Church

WHAT: Press Conference re Attempted Church Burning

WHEN: Thursday, July 30 at 10:30 a.m. PT

WHERE: 1305 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA (Zoom for persons outside of Berkeley)




What's Behind the Mysterious Shutdown of Berkeley's Post Office Services?

Gar Smith
Saturday July 25, 2020 - 03:22:00 PM

Over the past week, I've made three visits to Berkeley's Main Post Office and everytime, I found the counters mysteriously closed. 

There were no posted notices announcing new hours; no explanations. I went online but the USPS website offered no explanation about the closures. 

On the third day, I dropped by at 11:15AM and spotted a single hand-scrawled note on the shuttered counter. It read: "Off for lunch break. Back in 1 hour." But it didn't say when the note was posted so there was no way to known when service would resume. 

Confused and frustrated, I drove across town to the North Berkeley branch across from Andronico's. The lobby was open but, again, there were no clerks behind the counter. Just a hand-written note that said there would be no customer service "until 1:50." 

Returning to my car, I drove to a third PO on the west side of town. The doors to the San Pablo location were open but, again, the counters were closed. There was a single printed alert posted on the wall. It read: "Open 12:00 -16:00." I had arrived around 12:30, but there were no clerks to be seen. A few other would-be postal customers wandered around inside the lobby looking baffled and clutching envelopes and boxes needing postage. 

I took a closer look at the notice taped to the wall and discovered that it had been posted the previous day. This left me to wonder: "Have any postal workers even come into the PO today?" 

Another day passed before I made my fourth visit to the Berkeley Main. Today's visit was different. And unsettling. 

I was happy to see the counters were open but there was one postal employee to be seen. I approached the plastic sneeze guard and asked why I had been finding so many of Berkeley's mail stations closed during business hours. 

"There's been a staff shortage," she told me. 

"Sounds like it," I said. "If the PO has to shut down for a lunch break, that makes it sound like you've only got one employee on duty." 

"Yes," she confirmed. "It's just me here." 

"What happened to everyone else? Has Trump ordered layoffs?" 

"No," she explained. "It's the coronavirus. People tested positive. They're all in quarantine." 

"So it's just you here?" 

"Yes. Just me." 

"Miss, if you'll allow me to say it: You are a hero!" 


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, July 26- August 2 2020

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday July 25, 2020 - 12:03:00 PM

Worth Noting:

There are four meetings in the coming week so far including the Tuesday 4 pm City Council closed session. There have been a lot of long Council meetings and late nights – expect another.

Monday – The 10 am policy committee on Health, Life Enrichment, Equity & Community will discuss Racism as a Public Health Crisis. Follow the committee link for details.

Tuesday – The City Council Regular meeting is at 6 pm. Expect a long night with 44 agenda items including 6 action items. Usually items carried over from prior meetings precede the planned action agenda, but instead Item A. Emergency Declarations and First Amendment Curfews is listed as last. Item 36 SB 902 should be opposed not supported as it is another Scott Wiener measure that adds density without what is need most substantial affordable housing requirements. The Annual Housing Pipeline report listed under information deserves a full presentation and explanation.

Thursday - City Council will be meeting on July 30 to finish business before starting the summer recess and per the City Clerk Mark Numainville the agenda will not be posted on the Council website until Monday afternoon. So far only one meeting is expected. https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/City_Council__Agenda_Index.aspx

Sunday, July 26, 2020

No City meetings or events found

Monday, July 27, 2020 

City Council Health, Life Enrichment, Equity & Community Committee, 10 am, https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Home/Policy_Committee__Health,_Life_Enrichment,_Equity___Community.aspx 

Videoconference: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83717689869 

Teleconference: 669-900-9128 Meeting ID:837 1768 9869 

Agenda: 2. Listening Session on Homelessness, 3. Declare Racism as a Public Health Crisis, a Threat to Safety Issue in the City of Berkeley, 4. a.&b. Enforcement of the Berkeley Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing Ordinance, 5. a.&b Smoke-Free Multi-unit Housing Ordinance Policy and Enforcement Modifications. 


Tuesday, July 28, 2020 

Berkeley City Council, 4 pm and 6 pm, 


4 pm Closed Session 

Videoconference: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88655739778 

Teleconference: 699-900-9128 Meeting ID:886 5573 9778 

Agenda: Conference with Real Property Negotiators (Dee Ridley Williams, Paul Buddenhagen, Scot Ferris) Price and Terms, 1. 5385 Cazadero Hwy, Cazadero Performing Arts Camp, 2. 225 University Qasemi Abdul Moquim dba Berkeley Sportsman 


6 PM Regular Council Meeting 

Videoconference: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83653444287 

Teleconference: 669-900-9128 Meeting ID: 836 5344 4287 

Agenda CONSENT: 1. 2nd reading Video and Telecommunications Ordinance, 2. 2nd reading Easements between 2009 and 2015 Addison, 3. Resolution Emergency Proclamation SARS-CoV-2, 4. Minutes, 5. 2021 Council meeting schedule, 6. Avast Foundation Grant $10,000 to Animal Services, 7. Grant CA Arts Council $10,500 for Berkeley Civil Arts Program and BUSD, 8. Formal Bid Solicitations $8,645,000, 9. Add $100,000 and extend by 1 yr total $317,000 with Youth Spirit Artworks for Transition Age Youth Case Management, 10. Grant Agreement accept $196,965 for COVID-19 from CDC for Disease Control and Prevention, FY 2021 11. Resolution City to fund $50,000 to RCD and $50,000 to SAHA, 12. Participation Agreement for Mental Health Services Act, Innovations, Help@Hand Project thru 6/30/2024, 13. Block Grant (CSBG) 14. Amend contract add $90,000 total $3,565,7657/1/2006 – 6/30/2021, 15. Add $72,000 total $559,300 with Rolling Orange, Inc for Website Redesign Content Management System (CMS), 16. Add $650,000 total $3,952,663 (4/1/2017-6/30/2023) with Tyler Technologies Enterprise Resource Planning System for software licensing, implementation and maintenance, 17. Add $367,500 total $1,555,230 (3/30/2017-6/30/2021) with Tyler Technologies for New World Public Safety Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Police and Fire, mobile messaging and field reporting, 18. Contract $608,400 (9/1/2020-8/31/2025) with ePlus for Cohesity Backup Solution and hosted Cloud Storage, 19. Contract $405,000 (9/1/2020-8/31/2023) with Digital Hands for Cybersecurity Event Monitoring and Security Information and Event Management (SEIM), 20. MOU with “A Safe Place” Domestic Violence Shelter, 21. MOU with CA Dept of Justice accept grant for submission and testing of Sexual Assault Evidence, 22. Lease Agreement: 3 yr term 1001 University with the Berkeley Food Network, 23. Grant Application: Highway Safety Improvement Program multiple left-turn signalized intersection and Sacrament Pedestrian Crossings, 24. Contract add $25,000 total $75,000 with Ascentis Corporation 9274A for Biometric Time Card Services, 25. Contract $550,127 with McNabb Construction Inc for Codornices Creek Restoration at Kains Ave Project, 26. Referral Response: Action Plan to transition fleet vehicles to electric including infrastructure, 27. Amendments to BERA to prohibit Officeholder Accounts, 28. Oppose Nuclear Warfare marking 75th anniversary of bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 29. Support Berkeley Humane Society Adoption Event 9/29/2020, 30. Provide our Unhoused Community with Menstrual Products, 31. Resolution in Support of 1921 Walnut, 32. Adopt Resolution Implementing Core Police Accountability Board and Director of Police Accountability by July 1, 2021, 33. Resolution in Support of AB 310 Public Bank, 34. Oppose AB 2167 Insurance Action Market Plan & SB 292 Wildfire Risk Modeling and Mitigation, 35. Support SB 288 Sustainable Transportation COVID-19 Recovery Act, 36. Support SB 902 Authorizing Cities to Rezone for Density bill from Scott Weiner, 37. Support AB 2542 CA Racial Justice Act, 38. Support AB 2345 Density Bonus, ACTION: 39. Amendment Urgency Ordinance for Outdoor Commerce on Private Property, 40. Rezone Rose Garden Inn, 41. Ballot Initiative Amend Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance, 42. Amend BMC 23C.22 Short Term Rentals, 43. Urgency Ordinance: Updates to the COVID Emergency Response Ordinance Request Tenant Protections and Resolution UC Berkeley voluntarily comply with local ordinances restricting evictions, delay rent payments and empower tenants to terminate leases without penalty, A. Changes to BMC Code Emergency Declarations and First Amendment Curfews, INFORMATION REPORTS: 44. Voluntary Time Off Program, 45. Annual Housing Pipeline Report, 



Wednesday, July 29, 2020 

No City meetings or events found 


Thursday, July 30, 2020 

City Council Special Meeting – check website Monday afternoon for agenda and time 


Videoconference: - not available until Monday 

Teleconference: 669-900-9128 Meeting ID: not available until Monday 


Friday, July 31, Saturday, August 1, 2020 and Sunday, August 2, 2020 

No City meetings or events found 



Public Hearings Scheduled – Land Use Appeals 

1346 Ordway, TBD 

Notice of Decision (NOD) and Use Permits With End of Appeal Period 

2319 California 8/4/2020 

545 Colusa 7/30/2020 

118 El Camino 8/13/2020 

766 Ensenada 7/30/2020 

1731 Fourth 7/28/2020 

979 Regal 8/4/2020 

3015 San Pablo 8/12/2020 

1120 Second (LPC) 

41 San Diego Rd (LPC) 



LINK to Current Zoning Applications https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Planning_and_Development/Land_Use_Division/Current_Zoning_Applications.aspx 





Sept 29 – Digital Strategic Plan/FUND$ Replacement Website Update, Zero Waste Priorities, Vision 2050 

Oct 20 – Update Berkeley’s 2020 Vision, BMASP/Berkeley Pier-WETA Ferry 


Unscheduled Workshops/Presentations 

Cannabis Health Considerations 

Presentation from StopWaste on SB 1383 

Systems Realignment 


Previously Schedules and Unscheduled Items Removed From Lists 

Sept 22 – Navigable Cities, Crime Report (per Mayor Arreguin the Crime Report will be rescheduled to a regular City Council meeting, the date is not available. The last crime report was in March 2019) 

Ohlone Territory 



To Check For Regional Meetings with Berkeley Council Appointees go to 



To check for Berkeley Unified School District Board Meetings go to 





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

http://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and in the Berkeley Daily Planet under activist’s calendar http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com 


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 


If you wish to stop receiving the Weekly Summary of City Meetings please forward the weekly summary you received to kellyhammargren@gmail.com




Public Comment

Becoming Permanently Unemployed

Harry Brill
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:11:00 PM

Jerome Powell, who is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, warns that unemployment could reach the depression level of 25 percent. But like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, he is unaware that many experts on labor force issues claim that unemployment is already at the depression level or very close to 25 percent.  

Incredibly, 52.7 million workers lost their jobs in the last several months. Their benefits, including health insurance, are also gone. These workers make up about one fourth of the American workforce. Moreover, the climb in unemployment continues. In fact, substantial layoffs have become a weekly event. Nationally, 1.4 million workers were laid off last week. This makes the 18th week in a row that more than a million workers applied for unemployment insurance.  

Business too is having a very difficult time. 3600 businesses in the first 6 months of this year have filed for bankruptcy. Although these businesses will not necessarily disappear, retrenching is inevitable to pay off some of their debt. How? By laying off as many employees it can. In short, among the purposes of declaring bankruptcy is to save the company at the expense of jobs. 

The obvious question is why have so many businesses been going bankrupt. The usual explanation is that they have been victimized by the coronavirus. Indeed, the problems that the virus has set in motion, including depriving business of customers, have been enormous.  

However, the virus has not been the only problem. Actually, many businesses that have been in serious trouble were having financial problems long before the coronavirus appeared. Take for example the giant retailer JCPenney. Its sales began to slide in 2016, which is four years before the virus appeared. As a result, the retailer plans to close 180 to 200 stores. Thousands of part-time and full-time workers are being dismissed. And since the company is retrenching, the laid off workers cannot expect to get their jobs back. 

Also, as reported in the NYTimes, an unprecedented number of full-time faculty are losing their jobs at many colleges nationwide. They too are very unlikely to be rehired. About the layoffs, the coronavirus is blamed. Yet the NYTimes report acknowledged that the deepest personnel cuts at the colleges have been at institutions that were in financial distress before the virus appeared..  

In the retail sector over 100,000 companies have gone out of business. Up to 60 percent of small businesses that close never reopen, These closings not only increase unemployment. They also increase the numbers of those who become permanently unemployed. The jobs they lost no longer exist. And the competition between a growing number of jobless workers can be futile. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics acknowledges that about nine million workers are not even counted as unemployed because they have become too discouraged to continue searching for jobs. 

A think tank at the University of Chicago (The Becker Friedman Institute) found that 42 percent of recent layoffs are permanent because their jobs have disappeared. These include permanent cuts made by large as well as small companies. GE for example permanently cut 13,000 aviation jobs. MGM Resorts cut 63,000 jobs. And of course there are many other large layoffs by companies that have declared bankruptcy. 

The New York Times, which has been disturbed by these cuts, recruited a firm to very carefully evaluate how serious the unemployment problem is. According to the research findings, the majority of workers assumed that returning to their former jobs was very unlikely. According to the researchers, millions of jobs have been permanently lost. 

There is also another worrisome issue. Will the abysmal state of the economy become permanent too?

Facial Discrimination

Steve Martinot
Saturday July 25, 2020 - 03:18:00 PM

It’s always discouraging when you discover that a person you thought was intelligent turns out to be less so. It happens a bit in a social culture that depends on therapy rather than dialogue. You can almost tell from a person’s body language that they are thinking about how they feel about how you have spoken, that is, what its potential "effect" may be, rather than on what was actually said. This contortion of discourse is a paradigm that emerged during the 1980s. Its driving force was the counter-culture realization that much of the Puritanism on which this country had been founded (the New England branch of white supremacy) held people back from fully engaging each other as people. So a movement emerged that focused on “getting into your feelings.” Unfortunately, the habitual practice of looking inward became a strange self-centered way of developing dialogue with oneself rather than with another. Some of the non sequiturs that were thus produced would have made the surrealists proud. However, while seriously protecting people from subtlety, it oozed a certain minor-league sociopathy. 

Every now and then, one encounters individuals who still find it hard to flow with a give-and-take, the verbal-go-round of creative dialogue. In the encounter in question, our exchange began with a political image of a man wearing a “Black Lives Matter” hat being told by his employer to take it off while at work.  

This was clearly a violation of this man’s right to free speech. The law, however, has said, in various court cases, that the owner of a property has the right to determine the conduct of people allowed on the property. The store manager was actually within the law to require the employee to remove the hat or punch out. Unfortunately, this reminds us of the endless totalitarian propensities available to property, even when open to the public for social purposes. 

Presumably, the manager was afraid that those on the site who saw the hat’s sign, and for whatever reason disagreed with its politics, might feel annoyed by its existence, complain to the manager, and boycott the store. Such would be an example of the sociopathy generated by the sign. Such a person, too annoyed to engage the hat, and not having time to get to a therapist, yet internalizing their disagreement, would still have to find an irresponsible way of expressing their upset. Apparently beyond the manager’s ken and ban would be the possibility that the hat could actually lead to that most human and positive of interactions, namely, dialogue and an exchange of ideas (and even of disagreements). What baby is being thrown out with that bathwater? 

If one wears a sign, it is there for any person to see, to read, and perhaps to respond to – that is, to entertain discourse with it. It is immaterial whether the wearer wears it for informational purposes, or for identification, or because it is decorative, or actually to invite a response. The sign is there to be read, and responses are invoked. This is true even if the sign is not intelligible. Suppose it were written in Arabic, for instance, which a viewer might not speak. One could still respond to it by asking the wearer, “what does it say?” 

What is this store manager to do, however, if the sign a person is wearing actually belongs to his/her face? Is that farfetched? Back around the turn of the century (the 20th), there were signs in employment offices everywhere in New York City saying “no Irish need apply.” How were the Irish to be recognized but by their face and their brogue? In the Jim Crow south, for a black person to drink from the “white” water fountain or sit in the white bus station waitingroom was to make a political statement. Plessy vs. Ferguson was a case brought to the Supreme Court on the basis of just such a transformation of a face into a political sign. 

If a black face is a political statement, then so is a white face. Among the many things that a white face says is “I am not black.” In many segregated and institutionally racist circles, that is a political statement that one has to make in order to get through the door. A white face is not only a sign, it is a ticket. Why is being a ticket a political statement? Because it is created and dictated by a "policy" made by others. Actually, anything can be seen as a political statement. All it has to do is refer to a policy made by others in one’s social environment. 

As paradigmatic, we have the case of the New Orleans brown paper bag test. A brown paper bag would be tacked to the door of a café or restaurant or store, and to gain admittance, one’s face had to be lighter than the bag. If you were darker, you were out of luck. Thus, the face as sign was raised to the level of the political by this use of arbitrary technology. Many white people had to watch how they got suntanned in order to remain eligible for entry. Thus does an industrial artifact become an icon for the greatest historical crime committed by this country, its enslavement or genocide of people on the basis of how it read faces. 

In other words, what a face or a hat "says" is in the eye of the beholder, which is a nickname for the policy makers. They determine if a sign or a face is to be read as being political – or informative, or identifying, or decorative. Each possibility is a reading given the sign or the face by the one looking at it. Whatever causes one to get upset by what is read, the onus of upset lies with the reader. And if a face cannot be banned, and it is a sign, then that guarantee of presence must be extended to actual signs as well. 

Is my face, which is white, a political sign? We have been living through a period of massive upheaval concerning the relation between whiteness and justice, as manifest by the on-going epidemic of police brutality and the killing of black people. My face makes reference to that relationship. If my face were black, it would have a different political meaning, but be conditioned by the same context. 

As a sign, my white face inherently makes reference to the politics of a culture of white supremacy, and to the settler colonial culture it has imposed on this land. It also makes reference to citizenship in this constitutional republic, whose ideals are violated by all police brutality. In opposing police violation of that Constitution, I add my face implicitly to solidarity with the BLM movement. I could be approached and asked my thoughts concerning the racism in police brutality, which might initiate a discussion of race itself. I might welcome the initiation of a dialogue on that. Or, I might say this was not a good time for me to discuss such issues. But I would understand how the relation of my face to current events elicited such an approach by another. 

Suppose I wore a hat that said “Black Lives Matter.” It would still have as many meanings as my face, by which another might approach me. Someone might ask why I, a white person, support a black movement. They might say I am insufficiently grateful to the settler colonial economy for the benefits it has heaped on me. They might suggest that the statement (Black Lives Matter) asserted an importance for black people that is withheld from others. We’ve all heard these alternatives – for instance, white people suggesting that white lives matter too. 

In response, I would explain that the slogan is being misunderstood. “Black Lives Matter” is not a statement. It is a demand. The demand is “Stop killing black people.” There are no groups of white people in the US who can demand that the police stop killing members of that group. None. This slogan is a demand for a very specific form of justice, one which has been withheld by that settler colonial culture since its inception. 

Insofar as the slogan has different meanings, which of these different meanings is the manager banning by exorcising the hat? And what political meaning is given my white face and my solidarity with the black uprising by each of these interpretations? Since they emerge from those who approach me, is the manager attempting to suppress them all by firing me? 

In short, my right (and that of any other human) to wear a sign in the store, even as an employee, is absolute, the manager’s imagination of negative outcomes notwithstanding. If a face is always a political statement (which changes from era to era), it means that wearing political statements is a human right. Wearing a sign cannot be prohibited, anywhere. It even supersedes the totalitarian power of ownership, as anti-discrimination laws now hold. No prohibition is justifiable. 

Some people might say that this is taking the issue of political signs to the absurd. It didn’t seem so to Homer Plessy when he intentionally sat in the “whites only” railroad car in 1892. When arrested and charged, his inter-racial origins were not the question, only the statement made by his complexion. Sometimes the absurd is needed in order to make a point about something that is too big to see with the naked eye. 

I cannot be prohibited from wearing my face, and I cannot be prohibited from talking in dialogue with anyone about what the politics of my face are. To prohibit the wearing of signs includes the prohibition of certain faces. And that would recall for us the horrendous history of enslavement that such a stance has established for itself. 

What can be banned is disruption or physical havoc or assault wrought in response to a sign’s existence. Unless the sign itself were a form of assault. And that is an important exception. Derogatory terms, for instance, do not signify in the ordinary way. They do not simply refer but instead act upon their subjects to victimize, to create an atmosphere of dehumanization. Thus, derogatory terms are better understood as forms of assault. 

Tragically, the police don’t seem to be able to stop their killing. It is as if that is their intentional response to the demand to stop. In the weeks surrounding the death of George Floyd, when thousands of outraged people took to the streets, it was not just around him. There were at least a dozen other black and brown people who were killed by the police in other cities during those weeks. Rayshard Brooks or Breoona Taylor are two that stand out because the demos demanding justice for them made the media. So too for Tony McDade and Sean Monterrosa. Etc. 

Well, when I said most of this in abbreviated form to the guy I met who told me about the hat incident, he somehow couldn’t figure out what I was saying. All he could do was turn his back and walk away. Oh well. I suppose simple dialogue wasn’t in his repertoire. It is unfortunate, because that is where the most minor, and the most earthshaking, and most absurd ideas can get worked out, without needing a therapist. 

But it’s true, we live in a social situation in which ideas about our world tend to be complicated. And the art of dialogue between people, whether on complicated or simple ideas, has been dropped out of our culture. But that is a topic for another time. 


Smithereens: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday July 25, 2020 - 12:08:00 PM

The Green Screen Is Going Dark 

Last year's week-long San Francisco Green Film Festival featured 58 environmental films from around the world and hosted more than 70 filmmakers and guest speakers, with expert panels and lively audience Q&As that lit-up the Castro Theatre and four other screening venues. 

But now it's a new year and, for the SFGFF, it's the last. Festival founder Rachel Caplan made it official on July 10 when she announced her "heartbreaking decision" to cancel the 10th anniversary celebration, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In its nearly decade-long run, the SFGFF screened more than 600 films and featured hundreds of prominent speakers including Margaret Atwood, Annie Leonard, Jonathan Franzen, Madonna Thunder Hawk, and The Yes Men. 

All is not lost. While the future of public cinema is in doubt (along with just about everything else), you can still go online and explore the first nine years of the SFGFF's remarkable legacy by clicking here. 

93 House Members Vote to "Defend the People; Defund the Pentagon" 

On July 21, a record number of Congressmembers mustered the courage to confront the Military-Industrial Complex by voting to reduce the Pentagon's record $740 billion budget. The proposal (co-sponsored by our very own Rep. Barbara Lee) would have moved a mere 10% of the Pentagon's budget to pay for underfunded human and environmental needs. Polling showed overwhelming public support, but our so-called representatives didn't represent us. The House of Representatives defeated the bill by a 324 to 93 vote. 

Forty percent of Democrats voted to move the money while all 185 members of the GOP justified the hard work of MIC's lobbyists by voting "no." One Independent (Bernie Sanders) voted yes. Final tally: There are 93 people to thank and 324 to spank.
To learn how your Rep voted (and let them know that you know) click here. 

Float Like a Butterfly, Sing Like SC 

Muhammad Ali was not only the greatest boxer of his day, he was also a fighter for social justice, a war resister, and a film star ("Freedom Road" and "The Greatest"). Turns out, he was a pretty good singer, to boot. Here's a video of his cover of one of Sam Cooke's greatest hits, "Stand by Me." 


Rewriting History: Forging Ahead—with a Forgery 

The Chronicle has done it again. Twice in a month's time, the Chron's "News of the Day" feature has blatantly re-written Middle East history. A July 21 news short headlined "Libya Fighting," stated: "Libya was plunged into chaos when a 2011 uprising toppled dictator Moammar Khadfy." 

Just a domestic squabble, folks, nothing to see here, move along. 

There was no mention of the US-lead military coalition that (with UN complicity) subjected the country to a fierce air assault that raged for more than seven months. Sure, there was a UN resolution that authorized the US, Britain, and France to send their bombers and fighter jets into the sky and fly thousands of miles "to protect civilians and civilian populated areas," but Russia voted against the resolution, arguing that "intervention by the coalition in what is essentially an internal civil war is not sanctioned by the UN Security Council resolution." 

Philippe Sands, a professor of international law at University College London agreed, noting: "It is difficult in international law to argue for a pre-emptive use of force to protect civilians from a possible threat that might arise in the future." 

It quickly became clear that the US goal was not to "protect civilians" but to topple the Libyan government through military intervention. 

The US Excels at Terrorizing Terrorists 

And "protecting civilians" was not high on the agenda when President Reagan ordered an assault on Libya on April 14, 1986. Justifying the air attack—which involved more than 100 Air Force and Navy jets—as a response to Libyan "terrorism," Reagan's rationale lead to an hour-long assault targeting a known residence of Libya's leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi. (Note: I'm giving equal time to competing surname spellings.) While the Pentagon's "anti-terrorism" exercise missed killing Moammar Gaddafi (third spelling), it reportedly succeeded in killing his 15-month-old adopted daughter, Hana. Also killed, according to Libyan sources quoted by Reuters: "Gaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren." 

And that's how the US military responds to the scourge of "terrorism." 

Herd Immunity or Natural De-selection? 

Fox News host Steve Doocy hurled a doozy when he recently complained how, "over the last couple of weeks," calls to start wearing surgical facemasks in public "have become political." This was typical of the way Fox News (now, sadly, America's most-watched TV news source) addresses the pandemic. 

Fox commentators and guests have misspent countless broadcast hours belittling the use of facemasks to slow the spread of COVID-19. As a result, Fox News can claim substantial credit for the contagion's resurgence across the nation. It was Fox that promoted the message of "anti-lockdowners" who demanded that Republican governors spurn facemasks and spur the re-opening of beaches, bars and bowling alleys. It was Fox that lead the parade of right-wing voices debunking the dangers of the pandemic. It was Fox that helped convince viewers there was no need to wear masks in the fora or the agora

But, when it comes to proving Fox News's prowess in promoting Faux News, here is the biggest turkey-feather in Fox's cap: Research has shown a correlation between areas where Sean Hannity is most popular and where infection and mortality rates from COVID-19 are most prevelant. 

As The Daily Kos cautions: "The COVID-19 pandemic is a grim reminder of why we need news media that is centered on facts and science. In dangerous situations—such as the worst global pandemic in a century—people need accurate information . . . . However, when they receive misinformation—or even conspiracy theories—from Fox News, other right-wing media, or Big Tech social media, then they can make bad decisions that have deadly consequences . . . . If the only people pressuring our elected officials are consuming Fox News and other right-wing media, then bad public policy decisions are going to get made, such as re-opening economies too early." 

We keep hearing that "the virus is an equal-opportunity destroyer" that doesn't care who its victims will be. But, thanks to the Fox Effect, Right-thinking, mask-denying, conspiranoid, MAGA-hatted Trumpers have become clear stand-outs when it comes to easy-access coronavirus contamination. 

Could this be "Nature's way" of culling the human herd of "climate deniers" and "hydroxychloroquine true-believers"? If so, this may be the first time in history that a virus could play a role in a US presidential election. The GOP prides itself for perfecting the best "voter suppression" tools for skewing elections. Well, think again: if the virus continues to reduce the numbers of the Hannity Herd, the Fox-COVID-MAGA connection may prove Trump's undoing. 

Prepare for the "Aquapocalypse" 

More than 844 million people—one-ninth of Earth’s human population—lack easy access to clean, affordable water. Each year nearly 300,000 children under five die for want of clean water and adequate sanitation. As Esquire magazine noted in 2015, "21 of the planet's 37 aquifers are on the verge of collapse." On July 17, the National Geographic warned that "roughly 100 million people in India may gulp their last groundwater by year's end." (Adding irony to India's water woes, Esquire notes: "religious ceremonies are a major source of river pollution.") 

In numerous countries today, many of our poorest neighbors cannot protect themselves from coronavirus infection because there is simply not enough water available to wash their hands. These dire stats are worth remembering the next time you lather up for a COVID-19 scrub-down. Note to self: Don't leave the water running while soaping your fingers. 


House Votes Down Trump's A-bomb Test 

On July 21, Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, reported that a flood of citizen response—by phone and mail—persuaded a majority in the House of Representatives to oppose Trump's plan to resume US nuclear tests! "In less than 24 hours, over 200 Representatives heard from you and other Arms Control Association supporters," Kimball wrote. "With a vote of 227-179, those letters helped pass a critical amendment to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021 that would prohibit President Trump from conducting a nuclear test explosion." 

Now the issue goes before the Senate. Will a Republican-controlled Senate say "no" to Trump's nuclear ambitions? Trump already has threatened to veto the entire spending package if it includes a provision to remove the names of confederate leaders from eight US military bases. Given Trump's increasing acts of authoritarianism, will even a unified vote by the House and Senate be sufficient to ensure that "no president can unilaterally resume nuclear testing"? 

Another Response to Trump's Tyranny

Senators Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, and Chris Murphy have introduced an amendment to the Pentagon spending bill that would prevent Der Trump from air-dropping paramilitary troops into any more American cities. 

According to Senator Wyden (D-OR): "Already over 35 senators are co-sponsoring the bill . . . to stop the Trump Administration from dispatching his personal federal army into America's streets . . . . What our country has witnessed over the last several days in Portland are fascist tactics I never thought I’d see used on American soil. If the line isn’t drawn in the sand right now, America will be staring down the barrel of martial law for months to come." 

You can sign on below to support this emergency proposal: 

Trump's secret paramilitary is unacceptable in America. I support emergency legislation that this must end. 

Americans Don T-shirts and Garden Tools to Stand Up to Tyranny  

In the aftermath of recent police attacks on citizen protests in Oregon, the Portland Mercury ran this headline: "Feds Gas Moms & Dads Again." In response to Trump's crackpot crack-down, Portlanders have risen to the occasion and joined forces to create some unique counter-responses. Two of the most memorable being: The Wall-of-Moms and Dads-with-Leaf-Blowers. 


Trump's Troopers Show How to Make Dissenters "Disappear" 

Win Without War writes: "Right now, unidentified federal agents are on Portland’s streets targeting, tear-gassing, beating, kidnapping, and illegally detaining protestors with impunity and without cause. This is an OUTRAGEOUS overreach of federal authority." 

And, now Trump has threatened to ship even more of his secret police to occupy other Democrat-trending states—including Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Detroit. 

But, as WWW notes: "You can’t wage a war that you can’t pay for." So, spread the word and join a "people's campaign" to demand that Congress block Trump's ability to occupy our communities by stripping targeted funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Click here to write your reps and demand that Congress refuse to pass any DHS budget unless it contains "a COMPLETE ban on the deployment of and funding for Trump’s secret police force." 

Trump's Troubled Reign Is Rife with Strife 

Trump has already hinted that he intends to remain in office even if he loses the November election. Dispatching federal troops in an admittedly partisan attack to suppress a "leftist cultural revolution" in Democrat-governed states is part of this strategy. Trump may not be a master of mathematics but he's an expert when it comes to division. 

The Billionaire Class—the One-Percent-of-the-One-Percent—is feeling the growing rage of popular revolt like never before. And, as history has taught us: 

One proven way to prevent a Class War 

Is to provoke a Race War 

Playtime Reading for the Kids at Home 

A lot of homebound tots are likely to go a bit dotty in the days ahead. No school. No playground. No sports. But it could be a good time to steer the kids away from the hypnotic lure of glowing screens. So, if you're looking for some books that will not only entertain your toddlers but will also deliver the message that compassion is preferable to conflict, the anti-war group World Beyond War has put together a short-list of peace-teaching reads. Here are six for starters:
Peace Begins With You by Katherine Scholes
Bread and Honey, a Frank Asch Bear Story
Playing War by Kathy Beckwith 

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson 

The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionni 

Tube World by David Swanson 

Remembering Jeff Byers 

Berkeley's Stagebridge community is morning the loss of storyteller Jeff Byers, "a generous and gentle teacher and mentor." Byers was known to many for his work with the "story archive" at the Asian Art Museum where he presided as a resident storyteller and guide. 

Storybridge is celebrating Jeff's life online, sharing words from his friends and videos of Jeff spinning tales drawn from Asian history. Here's one of those tales. 


For more about Jeff and how to support the causes closest to him, visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/jeffbyers

Dress Rehearsal following Trump’s Election Defeat

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:38:00 PM

Using Federal troops in unmarked vans to arrest peaceful protestors was a deplorable action by the President whose clear intention was to intimidate protestors during a crucial election year. This might have been red meat to his declining base but has caused outrage from many Republicans and Democrats alike.

Contrary to claims made by the acting homeland security secretary, Chad F. Wolf, on orders from his boss, Portland was NOT convulsed by a “violent mob” of anarchists but were largely peaceful demonstrators exercising their First Amendment rights. 

The local mayor and governor both demanded the immediate removal of federal troops. The shameful behavior was reminiscent of unmarked cars under the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. The President seems to be watching too much television eager to mimic Clint “make my day” Eastwood. 

The deployment of Federal troops might be a post-election dress rehearsal when the President refuses to accept the results of the election claiming it was “rigged” and calls out Federal troops (police and Bikers) to restore order. This might be his last hurrah before the “stable genius” exchanges his suit and beloved long dangling red tie for a yellow jump suit and ankle chains. President Biden, please no pardons! 

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

The Odd Couple

Jagjit Singh
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:15:00 PM

A fascinating battle is ensuing between the diminutive lightweight intellectual giant Dr. Fauci, and the heavyweight “genius” challenger, Donald Trump, who outsourced much of his academic work earning a MD (master of deceit) degree. The good doctor follows the Hippocratic Oath (HO), “first do no harm,” and has an approval rating over 65% in spite of a chronic shortage of sleep because of demands on his time by round-the clock media interviews. His opinions are dictated by a close adherence to clinical data. 

On the hand the President flaunts the HO and continues to burden the American people with incoherent nixed messages which require an army of “cut and paste” specialists to interpret “Trump-Speak”. His most ardent admirer is the ultra-Christian VP Pence who regurgitates Trump’s words with dogged loyalty. Jesus would be so proud! 

Trump follows the dictates of his reelection strategy and has shown his willingness to run roughshod over medical science. According to the NYT and other reliable media reports, the President rises at noon exhausted from late night tweets and haunted by FOX news reports and bizarre conspiracy theories. 

After a fractious week, the former reality-show star gleefully retweeted “we shouldn’t trust doctors about Covid-19”. In a further effort to blunt and undermine Fauci’s authority, Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, assailed Fauci as being Dr. Wrong. 

It is amazing that Fauci, unlike other WH officials, seems to have an impregnable integrity shield deflecting hurtful verbal jabs always staying on message. Bravo Dr. Fauci!

THE PUBLIC EYE:Malignant Trumpware

Bob Burnett
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:13:00 PM

The United States is beset by two viruses: COVID-19, which is highly contagious and causes respiratory distress; and Donald Trump - a form of malware, which is also contagious and causes acute psychological damage. COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of smell and taste; some cases progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome and 3.5 percent result in death. Trumpware causes massive loss of judgement; some cases progress to cult-like behavior and, in a small percentage, a willingness to grant Trump dictatorial power.

There is no known antidote to COVID-19. We're all trying to avoid contracting it by preventative actions such as washing our hands often, avoiding close contact when outside our homes -- maintaining a protective distance of six feet, and covering our mouths and noses with cloth face covers.

There is an antidote to Trumpware; it's the presidential election on November 3rd. Nonetheless, in the next 100 days, there are steps you can take to avoid being contaminated by the Trump social virus. The first is to understand it.

Malicious software --malware -- has been around since at least 1988. It is software designed to intentionally damage elements of a computer network. 

Donald Trump has been around since 1946, but it can been argued that his malware career began in 1988 with the opening of the "Trump Taj Mahal" casino in Atlantic city. 

The initial malware -- computer viruses and worms -- were primarily cruel pranks; such as forcing obscene material on someone's home screen. Since 2003 the majority of malware has been more malicious, designed to take control of a computer environment for illicit purposes: spying, damage, or ransom. (Ransomware takes control of an environment and will not relinquish control until a fee is paid.) 

From 1988 until 2003, Donald Trump was not taken seriously; he was, in effect, a cruel prank. Since 2003, and the advent of The Apprentice, Trump has become more malicious. In 2016, Trumpware assumed its modern forms. 

In some voters, a Trumpware infection is relatively benign. It takes control of the right frontal lobe and causes loss of rational decision making. For example, devout Christians begin to believe that Trump is one of them; that he was "chosen by God" to represent their cause. As another example, formerly principled conservatives adopt the stance that the ends justify the means: "I don't like Trump personally, or his tweets, but I love his policies." Or "fiscally conservative" Republicans look the other way while the Trump Administration increases the federal deficit ($864 billion for 2020) and runs up the national debt (currently $20.5 trillion). 

Unfortunately, in some voters, Trumpware takes on a more malicious form: cultware. Trump has boasted, "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters." For a significant percentage of Republicans, this is true. For these voters, Trump can do no wrong. Members of the Trump cult reject suggestions that he is unfit for office and cling to the notion that Donald will magically provide them with a big slice of the American dream. (Some believe that, in the process, Trump will have to "blow up" Washington; in essence, destroy the U.S. institutions that have served Americans for the last 250 years.) 

The extreme behavior of members of the Trump cult has fostered the ransomware version of Trumpware: Trump and his supporters threaten, "Give us what we want or we will bring down American democracy." Trump demeans civility and encourages violent behavior at this rallies. He threatens the November 3rd elections by advocating various forms of voter suppression. He sends paramilitary forces to disrupt peaceful demonstrations. 

Computer ransomware takes control of an environment and will not relinquish control until a fee is paid. Trump has control of the White House and is holding it for ransom. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Internal Work of Managing Symptoms

Jack Bragen
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:17:00 PM

Sometimes there is only a hair's breadth, metaphorically speaking, between my consciousness rejecting a delusion versus believing in it. It requires unrelenting effort to recognize and nullify delusions, and this process is far from foolproof. Psych medication is the precondition; it is far from being a complete solution.

In addition to being medicated, a person subject to severe psychosis should probably do a lot of "reality checking" where practicable and should find a reliable person with whom to discuss thoughts. We can practice at teaching the mind to pinpoint a delusion. Nullifying a delusion also entails not being emotionally attached to the erroneous belief. The ability to let go of a belief to which a person is emotionally attached is improved with practice.

Clinical depression is probably not without a psychotic element. If depressed, the patient's perception of life is exaggerated toward everything being bad and hopeless. If not depressed, the same circumstances would likely be interpreted as workable. But how does a person obtain this better attitude, this more positive perception? Normally it would be accomplished with medication and therapy. You wouldn't normally be able to create it on your own. This is not to rule out independently working on oneself. 

There is a fine line between accepting medication because it is the only thing that will do a good enough job of relieving your symptoms, versus trying to medicate away the normal difficulties, problems and pain that come with being a person. On the other hand, this fine line is not fine in the case of severe psychosis, the distinction is very clear: take your medicine in order to save your brain cells and your life, or play games with not taking the medication--and life fizzles out. I've learned this the hard way. However, in 1996, I made a lifelong commitment to compliance. As a result, I have gained a lot of ground, especially regarding cognition. 

The more years a person with schizophrenia can go without relapsing, the more opportunity there is to reinstate and improve faculties. 

A person with schizophrenia probably has a structural problem in a part of the brain. A psychiatrist I saw in the mid 1980's showed me a poster of a brain and pointed out the problem area. Filtering of stimuli is the problem. The problem area of the schizophrenic person's brain is not the same area as that responsible for intelligence. Yet, that one trouble area can ruin the ability to discern reality versus the unreal. It also sensitizes the patient, often making them unable to handle excessively stimulating and/or demanding environments. 

Trump, whether you like him or not (I don't) in one of his books said that he has three hours of alone time every day--and he may have recommended the same thing to others (That part I don't recall). This strikes me as the same coping mechanism that I need to clear my head every day, a need that exists due to the psychotic condition. 

I've benefited a lot from writing in a notebook, instructions given to myself on how to improve my internal processing. When all of the junk got out of my head into notebooks, I became able to write for publication. 

About twenty-five years ago, I was having problems finding my way back to reality following a psychotic episode--hopefully the last one that I will have. I adopted the practice of studying how my mind works and how parts of it could be fixed. This led to a return to clarity. 

Now, my life path has brought me more difficulties. Most are dealt with and done, and they occurred in my life over the last three to four years. Yet now I'm still trying to make things better. I've returned to the practice of journaling my thoughts and giving myself instructions on what meditative practices I will use and how to do this. This is a written meditation. I don't know if others have developed something similar. However, this practice has allowed me to improve my mental health. And this bears fruit: more skillful actions and speech, ultimately resulting in better life circumstances. 

A psychiatrist might say you should not get heavily into your thoughts because it will lead to getting worse. Yet people with mental illness may have the capacity to meditate. Probably, some of us can, and some can't. 

"Lion's Roar" a top-notch Buddhist magazine, in their submission guidelines, implies that mentally ill individuals do not have the capacity to be meditation practitioners and writers. This is the prevailing belief. This is unfortunate, because many mentally ill people could benefit by pursuing this. 

I would say, if you want to pursue meditation, begin by learning what others have done. Read some books about meditation and spend time with people who practice mindfulness. I did exactly that, beginning in 1983, following my first psychotic episode. I was seeking answers. And I credit the practices I learned for giving me a better outcome than the doctors prognosticated. 

Uigur Genocide

Jagjit Singh
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:41:00 PM

There is growing concern that China may be omitting genocide against the Uigurs limiting their numbers by a systematic program of mass sterilization and incarceration. Pro-democracy activists are being targeted in Hong-Kong with dire threats of life-in-imprisonment. Stung by US criticism, the Chinese government has lashed out at US war crimes in Central and South America, Iraq and Afghanistan. For decades the US military has engaged in brutish terror against many of the most vulnerable people of the world undermining democracy and the rule of law. The notorious former “School of the Americas” trained many of its graduates in torture techniques to “discourage“ political dissent in their home countries. Massive grassroots efforts by US activists under the banner, ‘SOA Watch’ has finally closed the "School of Assassins" also known as the "School of Coups." Abuses SOA graduates have alleged to have committed include "the death or disappearance of 200,000 Guatemala…is one of many abuses. 

Other crimes committed by the CIA 1 Iran (1953) 2 Dominican Republic (1961) 3 South Vietnam (1963) 4 Brazil (1964) 5 Chile (1973), Argentina (1976). Political posturing is the art of launching terror and mayhem disguised under the slogan “the war on terror” with grotesque slogans like “Iraqi Freedom” as a cover for the “shock and awe” mayhem that quickly followed. During the disastrous Bush-Cheney regime, black sites were quickly established far away from the American public. Capitalizing on the public anger following the 9/11 attacks, Bush (who conveniently “disappeared” from his National Guard duties) told the nation “the gloves are coming off” with a Clint Eastwood “make my day” cowboy John Wayne swagger. Torture had now become an acceptable way to inflict “maximum pain and no gain” on mostly innocent victims caught in the “war on terror.” Following the invasion of Iraq on bogus WMD’s Bush declared victory. American psychologists were paid tens of millions of tax dollars to craft hideous stress positions, body slamming, water boarding, hanging from stressful positions for hours. The media watchdogs were silenced by Bush’s catch slogan, “you are either with us or against us” demanding unconditional fealty.  

The torture continued in notorious prisons at Abu Ghraib, G itmo and black sites under the watchful eyes of the current CIA director Gina Haspel who allegedly seemed to enjoy the screams from torture victims. General Colin Powell admitted that providing cover for the invasion of Iraq with completely false intelligence at the UN was the low point of his career. Former PM Tony Blair readily embraced Bush’s fictional tale of WMDs committing British troops to participate in the illegal invasion. He now travels the world as a high priced consultant unrepentant for his many crimes. Following his “success in Iraq, Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan to find and punish the elusive Bin Laden (a former US ally). Under intense pressure from VP Cheney, hundreds of Afghanis were rounded up on bogus intelligence. Tips from Afghanis who were anxious settle tribal scores were paid substantial sums of money. Many innocent men were caught up the massive dragnet. None of the prisoners have been charged of a crime. US taxpayers pay $13m per year to house each prisoners, Many were brutally tortured and many gave false information to stop the torture. Many are still languishing in US dungeons at Gitmo. Exhausting all available options, many of the prisoners have resigned to starting on a “hunger strike, to death” demanding “ give me freedom or give me death.” This us sheer MADNESS. These prisoners MUST be released immediately and GITMO closed. The CIA has had a checkered history overthrowing left leaning governments with mafia style interventions and leaving the “door wide open” allowing Russians Cyber interference during the 2016 election allowing the “most dangerous man on the planet” (Mary Trump’s words) to slither into the White House. This continues to be a dark stain on America’s claim to be a nation rooted in justice and the rule of war. For more go to, http://callforsocialjustice.blogspot.com/

An Apology and a Correction

Glen Kohler
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:37:00 PM

Mayor Arreguin pointed out that my report that the City wants to hire 'rent-a-cops' to perform traffic duties is incorrect; that in fact the City intends to hire more City staff, not a private contractor. And yes, I did say as much in a posting on NextDoor.com.

Please excuse me for wrongly referring to the intended staff members as rent-a-cops. That was wrong. But the essence of my complaint is not wrong.

Traffic duties are best performed by trained professional police officers. 'Routine' traffic stops can and do turn into much more serious situations: when the person being stopped reacts with violence. Has just committed a robbery and stolen items are in plain view. When drugs or alcohol or extreme mental/emotional states are involved. When the driver is violating parole. When the other driver is unlicensed. When the stopped car has been stolen. When a disgruntled parent has illegally abducted a child. When a driver accelerates instead of stopping. 

Police officers are well aware that a traffic stop is a potentially lethal confrontation. They approach the other car with caution and vigilance; ready for anything that may happen next. 

It is in the public's interest to have real policeman and policewoman at the scene, instead of 'a City staff member' who lacks the training and the experience to deal most effectively with critical situations. 

Not incidental to this discussion is that real police officers on traffic patrol see much more than traffic violators. They scan neighborhoods and districts for the normal and the abnormal, thereby staying in touch with the communities they serve. And they are present to react to traffic and non-traffic incidents. 

Seasoned professional police officers see traffic stops against the the total law enforcement perspective. Their identities are less invested in the outcome of a stop. If they think a driver can be warned without writing a ticket, their judgement allows that option. Traffic patrolling city staffers are likely to have more incentive to write tickets than let well-intentioned drivers go. 

Hiring cops that are not cops ... is not the answer to this city's budget woes.