Tuesday, December 24, 2019


It’s never foolish to hold out some hope for peace because there’s precedent. On Christmas eve, World War I trenches disgorged their soldiers as both sides met in "no man's land" to exchange greetings and carols. Maybe they understood in that moment that they’d been sent to defend interests other than their own, and that the people that needed to be there in their place were the bankers, and corporation heads and company directors, and all the heads of state who profit off war without risking their lives.  

2019 has been a year of hand wringing for this newsletter, and for the world (excluding the .0001 precedent). But we’re not neutral. We advocate, and will always advocate for PEACE and PLANET and remind our readers the two are linked. How? Because the U.S. military consumes more fossil fuel than any country on the globe. If PEACE reigned, we’d slow down global warming.

After 8 years of publishing, for the first time this newsletter is launching a project for PEACE and PLANET. We are planting trees. Last Fall, just before we left for Creech AFB in Nevada, news sources carried the story of 200 piñon nut harvesters in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, many of them children and adolescents, hired by a local farmer to bring in the crop. A U.S. drone strike killed 30, wounded 40, with many not unaccounted for.

Piñon nut harvesters - photo credit Reuters
We want to plant 30 piñon pine saplings in Cactus Springs to commemorate those murdered harvesters. This monument and our fund-raising campaign is a tangible way to “Re-Earth” by planting trees for the planet, and for our children’s future and future generations. We are also committing an act of non-violent civil disobedience by commemorating these 30 victims and all victims of U.S. wars. We are keeping our hope alive, and joy has got to be a big part of that.

If any of our 1,000 readers would like to join us by contributing, we'd be delighted of you could help us make this happen. 

Please mail us a check to our listed address 2550 Dana Street, 5-B, Berkeley, Ca. 94704. And please be sure to include your name and address so that we can acknowledge your gift.

And please consider forwarding this newsletter to others who may want to become part of our support. Peace and planet thank you.

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South Korea gets uppity, refuses to pay U.S. military  “protection service’ fee.

Xi issues warning to U.S. not to meddle in  China’s affairs.

Italy’s ‘sardines’ climate youth movement is a wakeup call for the left.

Assange gives evidence in Spanish case against security contractor who spied on him in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Colombians launch national cacerolazo against tax ‘reform’ that would lower duties on businesses.

‘Cutting social security’ is murder: flood of public outrage greets Trump proposal to slash lifesaving disability benefits for hundreds of thousands.

City of Los Altos Council denies Verizon, and AT&T cell node appeals.

Resisting 5 G technology, City of Berkeley’s Wired flies cease and desist order.

With federal minimum stuck at $7.25 for more than a decade, 32 jurisdictions across the U .S. will raise wages to or above $15 in 2020.

After Obama tells Progressives ”go slower,” one of his insiders confirms former president ready to back whoever wins 2020 nomination—even—horror of horrors—Bernie Sanders.


Sunday, December 22, 2019

Mr. Klein

Looking to the past as today’s guide helps people understand and recognize the present under its camouflage, for what it really is. An example in point is Joseph Losey’s Mr. Klein, which he shot in  France in 1976.

Prompted by a review in  the September 9, 2019 New Yorker, I made sure to attend what turned out to be its last screening at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. (It screened earlier in New York).

Briefly the plot outline features an indifferent, ultra manicured Alain Delon who plays an art dealer happy to take advantage of anyone selling artwork, especially those Jews, fleeing 1942 German-occupied France, fearing for their lives. The arrogance with which he’s shown throwing 300 Louis d’ors at his Jewish client feels like a slap in the audience’s face.

But disaster awaits Klein when a Jewish newspaper is slipped under his door. He discovers that, if he wants to cancel his subscription, he will need to go to the collaborationist Prefecture de Police. And so doing, he becomes the author of his own destruction: a “person of interest.” His wheelchair bound father (played by a stellar Louis Seigner) assures him “We’ve been French and Catholic since Louis the XVI!” but Klein’s true roots remain remain amorphous. He discovers that Paris holds another Robert Klein, this one probably a member of the French Resistance.  His discovery is the seed of a new obsession. To rid himself of his shadow he must discover the true identity of the other Robert Klein.

Here the film takes a decidedly noirish turn, a signature of Losey’s story telling art, but in my view, it is quite enough to observe routine arrests of Jews as the unaffected population of Paris carries on its daily rounds of cafes, race courses, promenades, the opera, and so forth while in the background we see scenes where arrests, and round ups are plotted by men in suits on a wall-sized enlargement of the city, and the Gestapo’s sinister Citroens and antiquated buses go about their deadly work.

Trapped in the Vel D'Hiver
But it is the scene of their final destination where Klein is trapped alongside the original Jewish client he treated with such contempt that speaks loudest: the “Vel d’Hiver." Throughout my years-long friendships with Parisian Holocaust survivors, the Vel d’Hiver (Winter Velodrome) features prominently in their stories of survival, but I had yet to see the actual scene: rivers of humanity herded behind bars, children separated from their mothers. The Right! Left! of the Final Solution. 

Never known for anything other than its temporizing and camouflaging views, for once the New Yorker does not disappoint. Writes reviewer, Anthony Lane: “How blessed we are to live in a decent and democratic age where such things could not possibly occur.”

Some recent headlines:

William Barr says “communities’ that protest cops could lose “the police protection they need.”

Eyewitness describes troubling police shooting at 23rd and Mission.

Video reveals police shot Jamaica Hampton while he was tuning, not while he was allegedly “assaulting officer.

Harmed by SFPD: Tana demands to see her son, Jamaica.

Why don’t more immigrants arrive legally? For many the doors are barricaded.

Homeless swept from Polk St. alley despite lack of shelter beds.

Data shows 40% of elementary kids homeless in Salinas.

U.S. government drops case against Max Blumenthal  after jailing journalist on false charges.

Edward Snowden: “If I came back to the U.S. I would likely die in prison for telling the truth.”

”‘Shameless racism’: 13 countries change long-standing position on Palestine at UN.

Reports: Israel occupation used flechette shells in Gaza.

Israeli military orders used to deprive Palestinians of human rights says HRW report.

U.S. constructing two new basses in Syria’s oil-rich region.

Nine kids dead in immigration detention. The time for immigration reform is now. Please sign at


Iraq protesters form ‘mini=state’ in Tahrir Square.

100 doctors demand Julian Assange receive safe passage to Australian hospital ‘Before it’s too late.’

Lawyer holds in court Assange cannot be extradited to U.S. because extradition treaty bars extradition for political offenses.

Finland general strike saves postal service.

George Galloway launches workers party of Britain.

France records 391-mile traffic jam as public transport brought to halt by third week of strikes over pension changes.

ICC prosecutor says Israel committing war crimes (duh) and opens investigation.

‘Gas war’ averted as Russia and Ukraine agree to crucial transit deal.


California DOJ cuts off ICE deportation officers from state law enforcement database.

Acting Department of Defense Inspector General Glenn Fine announces that his office will investigate the president’s use of troops at the Southern border.

Washington state attorney general sues Trump administration over courthouse immigration sweeps.

In win for native rights, Hawaii governor order cops at Mauna Kea to stand down.

New Jersey state legislature votes to grant all immigrants licenses.

Deportation relief extended for teen with cystic fibrosis.

Supreme Court leaves ruling barring prosecution of homeless in place.

Federal court uphold abortion access.

New Jersey restores voting rights of people on parole and probation.

Media taking notice as Sanders surges in new polls.

Moms reclaim vacant home amid national attacks on Homeless.

Atlanta moms show up when cops arrest mother of son with Down Syndrome.

Center for Constitutional Rights urges court to change ground rules for Guantánamo cases.

House spending package includes clear intent to keep fossil fuels out of clean energy program.

House approves first increase to public media in more than ten years.

Most Americans believe basic human rights under siege.

House Democrat from red district explains who she’s voting to impeach even if it ends her career.

Judge reverses vote in controversial first amendment case.

Anti-robocall bill passes.

Rep. Jeff Drew plans to make it official that he’s a Republican; staffers resign en masse.

After gaining full control of Virginia government, Democrats unveil bills to expand voting rights.

Goldman Sachs rules out funding for new coal projects, arctic oil drilling, making explicit mention of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

New ag bill includes first-ever national factory farm moratorium.

New lawsuit challenges Trump failure to update slaughterhouse pollution guidelines.

California gives state protection to foothill yellow-legged frogs.

Diane Wilson wins $50 million lawsuit against cancer alley polluter Formosa, setting major legal precedent.

Nestlé’s go at privatizing town water shot down by Michigan appeals court.

Eastbayhills wins court victory  against pesticide sprayers.

Rainy day victory: homeless man shatters window to go to jail to escape the cold.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Poles Apart

Could looking at much less elaborated ways of living, and unsnarling the complications raised by our intensely overwound culture reveal something about our encounter with global warming which seems to have escaped us so far?

This writer has been reading ethnographies, ethnographies of the Ju/wasi, (some refer to them as the San) the world’s oldest people (that is, people descended directly from the original human inhabitants of  Earth), who once occupied almost all of East Africa, and more recently the Kalahari Desert; and ethnographies of the inhabitants of Zanskar, one of the world’s most inaccessible people living poles apart in the high Himalayas.

Uncomplicated living in Zanskar
 Why read about people living distantly from our supremely dominant global, “civilized” cultures in the great cities of London, Washington, Rome, Paris, Berlin, and other Great Capitals of the Western World? What can they possibly teach us that we don’t already know, and that we don’t need to know? What is to be learned there? And why does this writer keep gnawing away at the question: Why is it that Western Culture (and that includes coal-burning countries like China) seems hell-bent on destroying the home in which it lives?

What would it take for the dominant global culture to reverse itself 180 degrees? And what kinds of reversal are we talking about? And how can anyone refer to a dominant global culture monolithically, when it includes kids who “get it?” Are those kids a separate culture?  Why does it matter? If we are talking about the clash of fundamental ideas of being in the world, why do we talk about the proponents of those ideas in the same breath?

The Ju/wasi have inhabited Botswana for a known period of 60,000 years. Their oral cultural memory of the skies of 58,000 B .C. tell them where to look for constellations which the unschooled eye cannot possibly find (because over a geological time period, far beyond the scope of human time, the skies shift infinitesimally slowly). Gift exchanging is a huge part of their daily lives, a practice which guarantees that no individuals can ever amass great wealth to the imporverishment of others. They lived happily this way for 60,000 years.

Ju/Wasi building a fire from scratch
If the human race had lived an existence as uncomplicated as the Ju/Wasi have, the climate of this planet might still have been able to cradle human existence in a more benevolent way. 

Zanskar Buddhist monastery
The Buddhist inhabitants of Zanskar weave the fabric which becomes their one suit of clothes, which they patch, and re-sew over a lifetime. At 16,000 feet, well above the tree line, the inhabitants mostly subsist on a diet of barley and peas, wild and  cultivated; some onions, radishes, cucumbers and potatoes (grown in tiny kitchen gardens) and their yaks give them yak butter.  Of these they make tea (served with butter); tsampa (barley flour moistened and kneaded with water to make cakes, often eaten cold); and chang, a drink made of fermented barley which makes the drinker warm and quite happy. To guard their animals from wolves, they occasionally sleep outdoors in temperatures of minus 40 degrees. To plant grains above the snow line, they build piles of soil which they spread over the snow in early Spring. The darkness of that earth forces the snow to melt allowing them to plant their grains early enough to harvest them before the first freeze. In other words, they make use of the very feed back loop that’s now over heating our Earth such that, as polar ice melts exposing the dark sea to sunlight, it further warms an already overheating planet. They live happily this way and have lived happily for as long as they have inhabited their kingdom.

If the human race had lived an existence as simple as the Zanskaris, the climate of this planet might still have been able to cradle our existence in a more benevolent way.

What does all this suggest?

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Can’t be stopped: young climate activists storm  COP 25 stage.

Thunberg named Time’s person of the year.

Calling for “Climate President,” more than 500 groups demand next administration take immediate action.

Timed to COP 25, and decrying EU proposal to address climate collapse by 2015 as too little, too late, Greenpeace activists stage spectacular House on Fire spectacle in Brussels.

Greenpeace sets the world on fire
Lavrov states Russia ready to extend new START treaty.

More war lies debunked: UN unable to link Saudi, Aramco attacks to Iran.

Supreme Court rejects “free speech” challenge by Wireless Association CTIA against Berkeley’s cell phone right to know about how cell phones harm you law.

House Democrats pass bill restoring Voting Rights Act after Supreme “Court” decision guts it.

Coal resupply train blocked in two states.

World’s big sleep out (some of it in rainy LA) as thousands world over spend night outside in solidarity with the homeless.

Environmental Health trust to take legal action challenging FCC that 20th century techniques can't evaluate 21st century technology.

Boston  suburb of Brookline first East Coast city to ban oil and natural gas infrastructure in new construction projects.

Do they know something we don’t:  100 Italian municipalities pass resolutions against 5G.

Never in America: Mexico’s government launches massive seized assets auction for “Robin Hood” program benefitting the very poor and destitute.

Indonesian steel craftsmanship revives as builders demonstrate the superior strength of bamboo.

Six hundred kilometers of roads blocked as French strikes urging withdrawal of pension “reform” draft law continue.

100 California cities reject PG & E’s bankruptcy proposal, demanding it be broken up.

Seven men sentenced for murder of visionary Honduran social movement leader Berta Cáceres.

NRA investigation widens as New York AG delivers new subpoena.

After House progressive push to strengthen drug pricing billPelosi eats crow.

Chipping away at the Little King: North Dakota county votes to accept refugees, defying #45 executive order.

School fights back after ICE detains Connecticut high school sophomore.

Small, predominantly black Georgia town gets election officials to reopen polling station closed in disenfranchising effort.

Houston cop gets in McConnell’s face: “You’re either here for women [victims of domestic violence] or you’re here for the NRA."

Texas sheriff’s deputy arrested for conducting unlawful strip searches of six women.

Packed Berkeley tenants union, reconvening on short notice, endorses Bernie Sanders.

After non-profit college forgives $141 million in student debt, Sanders points out there’s only $1,685,456,413,335 more to go.

U.S. government drops prosecution of Max Blumenthal after jailing journalist on false charges [covering Venezuelan Embassy protection events.]

Journalism is not dead yet as rank-and-file news writer wins CWA News Guild presidency.

Brian Eno launches Julian Assange campaign.

President of National Nurses United testifies at health care Congressional hearing re: passing Medicare for All!

Following budget cuts, S. F. City supervisors move to save CCSF classes. 

Methodist church nativity scene depicts Mary, Jesus and Joseph as separated and caged family.

ICE Nativity
Wisconsin high school senior opens mosque doors, sheltering over 100 peers during school shooting.

Pawn shop worker in Hurricane, Utah, saves falling infant while mom's busy shopping for shotguns.