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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

It wasn't the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day. Or even the Eleventh Month. It was, though, the 14th Day of Fourth Month of the Fourth Year in the War to Save the Berkeley Post Office and Fight Postal Privatization.

On that day, April 14th, 2015, Federal District Court Judge William Alsup proclaimed a stalemate. He declared that the lawsuit, City of Berkeley v United States Postal Service, which sought to enjoin the Postal Service from selling the Post Office building at 2000 Allston Way, was moot - for lack of there being a buyer. (The prospective buyer, a local developer, had backed out from the purchase in December, 2014.)

But in conjunction with declaring the sale moot, he forced the Postal Service to admit that they were rescinding their decision to relocate Postal Services elsewhere, out of the building. More importantly, he made it clear that should the Postal Service attempt to sell the building at any point in the next five years they must provide 42 days notice and, should the City of Berkeley refile the suit at that point, the case would end up back in court before him.

Two days later, eight god-warrior enemies of privatization sat on the (still public!) steps of the Post Office, relieved yet still wary.

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From left to right, back to front: Thor, Ares, Indra, Pakhet, Athena, Ku, Kali, Tumatauenga.
(appearing in mortal guise all)

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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

In Oakland, California, every McDonald's in the city but one was shut down beginning at 8:00 AM for an hour in a coordinated  show of force to demand $15 and a union.

All the actions then converged on the remaining McDonald's - at 45th & Telegraph - for a final shutdown action.  Robert Reich, UC Professor and former Secretary of Labor, visited the action and may have spoken.

This afternoon at 1:00 PM there will be a march from Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland to Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley Campus, where the largest rally ever in the East Bay for the Fight for $15 will be being held.  Thousands are expected, converging from all over Northern California.

Below are tweetpics from actions around the globe on this International Day of Action in the fight for a living wage.

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Official recall papers were filed today for Mayor James Knowles of Ferguson. Those filing now have 60 days to get enough signatures to force the recall.  They left little to the imagination in their statement announcing the effort:

We cannot describe how disgusted we are with you.

Perhaps Knowles is prescient.  Just hours ago NBC reported that Knowles said "There's ways for them to remove me if they so choose."

The mayor of Ferguson, Missouri, said Friday that he has no plans to join the cascade of top local officials stepping down in the aftermath of a scathing federal report alleging racially biased policing.

In an interview with Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, Mayor James Knowles III said that the resignations or firings of six city officials implicated in the scandal have given the troubled city the clean slate it needs to begin the reforming itself. Some in the community have demanded a recall election.

"There's ways for them to remove me if they so choose. But right now this community needs leadership," Knowles said. "This community needs someone who is going to stay around and work toward bringing us together, moving us forward. And I've committed to doing that. And so has the rest of the city council."


Knowles fate?

35%37 votes
38%40 votes
12%13 votes
2%3 votes
9%10 votes

| 103 votes | Vote | Results

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Yup. Today is the day.  The minimum wage hike to $12.25/hr, with accruing paid sick leave, passing as it did with more than 80% (!!) support in November, is now in effect in Oakland, CA. It began 3/2/15, at 12:00 midnight.

As of today, it's the highest generally applicable minimum wage in the country.

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Politicians didn't have the courage to pass it. Hell, even after it was obvious and inevitable that it would be on the ballot and that it would pass, not one member of the Oakland City Council or the Mayor had the guts to even introduce equivalent legislation. It took a grassroots campaign, led by community orgs, non-profits and labor unions, gathering more than 30,000 signatures over the course of three months, to make it happen.

California's minimum wage is $9 now. Neighboring Berkeley has a $10/hr minimum wage right now, going up to $11/hr in Occtober and then to $12.53/hr a year later. Emeryville, tucked between Oakland and Berkeley, is contemplating a $14.13/hr minimum wage. San Francisco will match Oakland's $12.25/hr in May, and then continue on up gradually to $15/hr by 2018. Oakland's minimum wage will rise with the Consumer Price Index yearly beginning in January.

Even Walmart now thinks a $7.25/hr minimum wage is not enough, and even the majority of Republicans believe that raising it to $12.50/hr by 2020 is a good idea. Yet most of the nation's minimum wage workers still struggle at the Federal minimum wage or a pittance above it. It's time for the rest of the country to follow Oakland's, San Francisco's and Seattle's example.

People say that this is an experiment - never before has a minimum wage risen so steeply in one shot. If so it is the best kind of human experimentation, a science that will leave a lot of people better off.

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

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Such is the mythology the US Postal Service would have us believe about the Berkeley Post Office. You see, Postal Service lawyers were caught lying to a Federal judge in a hearing on December 11th about the City of Berkeley's lawsuit against the sale of its downtown Post Office.

I was there in the courtroom. I heard them lie. They argued to the judge that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the downtown Berkeley Post Office was "no longer for sale."  But a quick check immediately after the hearing showed that it was still listed as being "for sale" on the Postal Service's property listing website, and the listing remained there for weeks.

It is true that some time in January they took the listing down - presumably so that they could make a non-pants-on-fire argument in their new motion to dismiss that it really wasn't for sale any longer.  But just days ago a local reporter wrote

Although the Berkeley post office has been removed from the listings, "that does not mean we are still not pursuing the sale of the building," said USPS spokesperson Augustine Ruiz in an email.
So they're still selling it - it's just not for sale.  And they really are trying to tell that to the judge on March 19th, the date of the next hearing.
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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Which Side Are You On? That's the question being asked of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board of Directors. You see, back on Black Friday, #BlackLivesMatter protesters in Oakland shut down the West Oakland BART station by chaining themselves to a BART train.

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BART and its lackey District Attorney decided to get nasty. They are pursuing serious charges against the protesters and demanding $70,000 in "restitution" for lost fares during the one to two hour shutdown. Then they doubled down on stupid.

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On December 13th, the largest protest gathering in the Bay Area since the Occupy Port Shutdowns and General Strike took place. Three to five thousand people assembled at Oscar Grant Plaza in downtown Oakland, then marched to the Alameda County Courthouse by Lake Merritt.

"Noematic" created a haunting video of the event at the courthouse called "No Beauty With an Absence of Color." Featuring a song by a young African American woman and high school student from Oakland, Imani Diltz, you can listen as shots of the crowd are interspersed with images of protests from the late '60s and early 70s.

I said a lot of mothers cried this summer
I said a lot of brothers died this summer
Some boys got shot
Dark complexion, white cop
And some heart monitors stopped
Rest in peace, Grandma, I love ya

Not forty-eight hours later, Oakland woke up to the news that the Oakland Police Station was in the processed of being blockaded.  You can read how the action unfolded in my diary from that morning; here is a moving video, "Voices from #ShutdownOPD," created during the event, featuring a version of the protest song "Which Side Are You On" and powerful words from some of the event's organizers.

Which side are you on, friends, which side are you on?
Which side are you on, friends, which side are you on?
Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all.
And we will fight for freedom until justice is won.

Looking out from the Courthouse on December 13th.

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One scene from early in the OPD Shutdown Monday morning, December 15th.

Reposted from slinkerwink by slinkerwink
The fallout from the elections has been severe with a complete GOP takeover of the Senate, and state legislatures across the country. Our party lost, and there were many reasons, but the most glaring one is that there was a complete LACK of messaging that spoke to people's interests. When people really don't know what the Democratic Party stands for as a whole, they're not going to be invested in the party itself, and that's a fact.

Some may dispute that fact, but the reality is that we cannot trust the Democratic Party, especially the leaders in D.C., to do the messaging right. They're not there on addressing messaging around these big ticket items that surely will be on people's minds going into 2016:

  • Student loan debt
  • Lack of wage parity
  • Maternity leave
  • Family-friendly policies
  • The environment
  • Wall Street accountability
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The announcement came with last Friday afternoon's news dump: Post Office officials confirmed that the Berkeley Post Office was "under contract" to be sold, after rumors had been flying for the last day or so.

Under contract photo crbe-under-contract_zpsd7bfbe13.jpg
"In contract"

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Reposted from slinkerwink by slinkerwink

The CDC admitted that the Ebola outbreak in Dallas could widen beyond the current Liberian case, and said that restricting travel would not help contain the spread of additional outbreaks from citizens from affected countries.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden vowed to "stop Ebola in its tracks" in the United States while acknowledging that the Dallas outbreak could become larger than one case.

"I'm not going to promise that we can stop this at just one case, but I can tell you we have the advantage because the right steps are being taken," Frieden wrote late Thursday in a CNN op-ed.

What Frieden said about not even bothering to contain the spread of potential Ebola risks from other countries is utter bullshit:
"Even if we tried to close the border, it wouldn't work," Frieden said Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"People have a right to return, people transiting through could come in, and it would backfire because by isolating these countries it will make it harder to help them."

People DO NOT have the right to return to the U.S. from these affected countries. Non U.S. citizens do not have the right to return -- what they have are visas that allow them entry to the United States, and it's clear that self-reporting at the border or checkpoints does not work especially since the man from Liberia lied about being exposed to Ebola. What the government needs to do and actually should have done two or three weeks ago is to put a ban on issuing visas to Non-U.S. citizens from Ebola-affected countries, and put travel restrictions on U.S. citizens traveling to these countries where Ebola outbreaks are occurring.

There's a reason why isolation and containment is so effective. It prevents the disease from spreading, and minimizes the risk of a ripple effect of infection going out among the populace. I'm disappointed in the failure of the Texas hospital to contain and isolate the man from Liberia. I'm disappointed in the failure of the Obama administration to put a stop to issuing visas to people from these countries, and for not putting travel restrictions into place.

And even more so, I'm disappointed in the State of Texas for not expanding Medicaid because we now have a large uninsured population here that are at risk of contracting Ebola and not coming in for medical treatment. This whole situation is a flustercuck from start to finish.

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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Almost two years ago Hannel Appel, Bay Area native and Occupy Wall Street veteran, came back to the Bay Area, came to a General Assembly of Occupy Oakland and called on people to form Strike Debt Bay Area (SDBA) in light of Strike Debt New York City's newly announced and amazing Rolling Jubilee project.

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Two years later, and in the spare time she had not fighting unjust debt with SDBA, she made ere way from a post doc position at UC Berkeley to a professorship at UCLA. With other Strike Debters, she began working on a new Strike Debt project even as she took up her professorial duties. It's called the Debt Collective. It's an effort to organize student debtors so that collective action against lenders is possible. It rolled out on the wave of the latest big Rolling Jubilee announcement which abolished $4M in student debt at pennies on the dollar.

A week ago Hannah found herself being interviewed about the project on the Tavis Smiley show, a nationally syndicated PBS production.

I can't embed the interview, but it is amazing, and you must go listen to it.


I mean it. Don't be lazy and not follow the link like most people.

Click here and listen.

Really.  The exhortations will continue until you

Follow the link!.

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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

One year and two months after the idea was first floated, legislation to rezone Berkeley's Historic Civic Center, including the US Post Office property at 2000 Allston Way, became law last night.

Why is this of interest to anyone outside of Berkeley? Because the new zoning ordinance is part of a long and bitter national struggle against the selling off of our public commons and the privatization of the Post Office.

(for background, see those Damned Hippies. They're Saving the Post Office.)

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