US Labor Leader Says Case for Bernie Sanders 2020 Is Simple: His ‘Life and Heart and Soul’

“I always say that heroes are not made, they’re cornered,” says RoseAnn DeMoro, former head of the National Nurses United. “And I’ve never seen anybody more cornered in my life than Bernie Sanders.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivered the keynote address at The Sanders Institute Gathering—organized by his wife Jane Sanders—on Friday night in Burlington, Vermont. (Photo: © Will Allen 2018 / @willallenexplore)


With the U.S. midterms concluded, a new book just out, and a weekend ‘Gathering’ of progressive leaders and close allies in his home state of Vermont, there is plenty of fresh talk about whether Sen. Bernie Sanders will run for president again in 2020.

Some think he’s not the best choice for Democrats. Some think he clearly should run. Some argue the progressive case is obvious. Some who even worked for Sanders’ 2016 campaign are not sure, at least according to the headline, that another run is the wisest move.

But while Sanders, his wife Jane O’Meara Sanders, the family, and his political team have made clear they are seriously considering it—there is no decision yet.

“We need a leader that is going to unify the world. We need someone who gives their life and heart and soul to making us secure on our planet, in our workplace, in our homes, in our lives, after we retire, when our children are born — and that’s Bernie Sanders. And there is no one who comes near him on the political scene.”
—RoseAnn DeMoro
Songwriter and music legend Bruce Springsteen may not have intended to make the case, but comments he made in an interview published on Sunday have been seized by at least a few of those clamoring for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to end the internal debate his team is having about the run and announce as the best Democratic Party candidate to challenge Donald Trump in the next election.

The longtime Democrat and legendary musician told The Sunday Times that Democrats in the U.S. need a candidate “who can speak some of the same language” as Trump when it comes to communicating with blue collar workers and others suffering under economic weight. “I don’t see anyone out there at the moment…the man who can beat Trump, or the woman who can beat Trump,” Springsteen said.

“The Democrats,” he added, “don’t have an obvious, effective presidential candidate.”

But in response to Springsteen’s remarks, U.S. labor leader and political organizer RoseAnn DeMoro—who spent the weekend at The Sanders Institute Gathering in Burlington, Vermont telling anyone asking or listening that the Independent senator is the only choice for the next presidential election—on Monday tweeted her agreement that the Democrats do not have anyone at the moment better than Sanders—officially an Independent—to lead the party in the effort to dethrone Trump.

“I agree with this,” she said about Springsteen’s critique of the potential Democratic field. “And that is why @springsteen needs to help #Bernie2020.”

Interviewed by the Washington Post‘s David Weigel over the weekend, and asked about other possible 2020 candidates, DeMoro was described as “incredulous” about the very premise of the question. “There are no other candidates,” she told him.

In a joint interview with Common Dreams and The Katie Halper Show on Saturday night, DeMoro said that in her mind—and in the minds of many progressive organizers, labor leaders, and rank-and-file voters—it’s not even close.

“If Bernie doesn’t run, we don’t have anyone who represents what Bernie represents. There is no one in the political spectrum who represents the values that he has,” she explained. “There are some who fake it, who feign it—they say, ‘Oh, I’m for Medicare for All’—but when push comes to shove they can’t articulate anything about Medicare for All. I’m mean, it’s a joke.”

And it is the integrity of Sanders, she says, that cannot be bought, manufactured, or faked. “When you actually, fundamentally believe something,” she said, “people see that. They know when you’re authentic.”

“When you actually, fundamentally believe something—people see that. They know when you’re authentic.”

She is certainly not alone in making electrified demands that Sanders run. At the conclusion of a panel event at The Gathering in Burlington on Friday night, many were taken when Yanis Varoufakis, the former finance minister of Greece, made the international argument as he declared: “Let me convey a message from all of us in Europe, for all those comrades of yours that are now struggling to reclaim our cities, our world, our environment: We need Bernie Sanders to run for president!”

Though an intrinsically friendly crowd, there was an eruption of applause and a familiar 2016 chant soon filled the hall: “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”

Sanders did not take the bait, however. He demured and stated, “And on that note…” as the chant subsided and event concluded.

Speaking with the Associated Press, Jane O’Meara Sanders, who founded The Sanders Institute as a way to continue to press for the ideas that both she and Bernie believe in, said the family’s final decision will be made by looking outward, not necessarily inward.

“It’s not about us,” O’Meara Sanders said. “It’s about what’s right for the country.” The biggest question, she added, was this one: “Who can beat Donald Trump?”

For DeMoro, it’s ultimately less about the failures or shortcomings of others—though those shortcomings do matter—but the singular quality of Sanders that would make him the most potent contender.

“We need a leader that is going to unify the world,” she said. “We need someone who gives their life and heart and soul to making us secure on our planet, in our workplace, in our homes, in our lives, after we retire, when our children are born—and that’s Bernie Sanders. And there is no one who comes near him on the political scene.”

But whether he wants to or not—and there is plenty of evidence to suggest he will run—DeMoro’s argument is that, in many ways, there is no choice for the longtime Independent to once again join the Democratic Party, as he did in 2016, in order to lead the nation (and the world) in the existential fight to defeat Donald Trump and the Republican Party he now controls.

“I always say that heroes are not made, they’re cornered,” DeMoro said. “And I’ve never seen anybody more cornered in my life than Bernie Sanders.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Journalism Is Never Objective: On the Ideology of News-Media Objectivity

What Is Journalistic Objectivity?

Analysis of the major news-media’s declining credibility tends to revolve around the idea that objective journalism is being drowned out by foreign propaganda and ‘fake news’ spread by an inexhaustible legion of useful idiots via social-media. Though Democrats and Republicans disagree over whether it was the fault of Russians or the liberal elite, both narratives are unified by a singular premise that non-objective news has made it too hard for the stupid public to recognize the objective news. Of course, this assumes that such a thing as ‘objective journalism’ exists and that should raise the question — is there such a thing as objectivity in journalism? Where exactly is the line and, more importantly, who gets to draw the line between objective and non-objective news? And does journalistic objectivity even matter if enough of us just dispute the media that displeases us regardless of (alleged) objectivity?

Does Journalistic Objectivity Exist?

“The imaginary and the rational-the visionary and objective vision — hover close together”
– Donna Haraway

Most would agree that some kinds of information like measurements, records, and events that either did or did not occur are inherently objective enough to be communicated without much risk of misleading others. This would generally include any information available in public records — like the fact that Chuck Schumer received $102,988 in contributions from weapons giant Lockheed-Martin in 2018 — and measurements like that Three Mile Island is just 2.5 miles long, as well as historical events like the fact that the Allied Powers turned down a proposal by Stalin to attack Hitler before WWII on August 15th, 1939. Since numbers, dates, events, and the like can be verified not just by other journalists but by virtually anyone, this sort of objectivity is least problematic. Factual accuracy must obviously be a minimum requirement for media to even be considered as journalism but accuracy in fact, in itself, is hopelessly inadequate as a standard of journalistic objectivity or the credibility of news because media, as it actually exists, is never a raw feed of carefully-labeled numeric data.​..

The Poverty of Factual Accuracy

Not only does factual accuracy fail to account for most facets of real media, facts that are technically correct can be (and frequently are) used to support conclusions based on faulty reasoning. As an example, it would be technically correct to report that rates of shark attacks rise along with revenue from ice-cream sales and, by the simple omission of further context, that might imply that sharks like the taste of people who eat frozen-treats or that Big Ice-Cream is terrorizing the public with sharks. None of the facts in such a report would be false and yet clearly it would be just as untrustworthy as any ‘fake news’ story based on mistaken or made-up “facts.” That, of course, is a very simple, silly example but it serves to illustrate that, however accurate or verifiable or numerous, the facts are still a house of cards that is always one case of bad reasoning away from ruin.

Graphic: The Science of Shark Attacks and Ice-Cream Sales

But factual accuracy’s inadequacy becomes even more palpable considering that facts can be used to distort reality as easily as they can be used to communicate it. In the wrong hands, this sort of factual quackery can be tailored to suit just about any narrative as Zachary Goldfarb demonstrates in an article that appeared in the Washington Post, titled How We Misread the Numbers That Dominate Our Politics — :

I want to tell you the story of a president [who] came into office during a massive financial crisis, with the economy losing 800,000 jobs per month, and he turned things around. He created more than 5 million new jobs and saved the jobs of teachers who were at risk of being laid off. The manufacturing industry roared back, adding 460,000 workers. And after its worst decline ever, the housing market started to rebound, with home prices rising and the government helping millions of people avoid foreclosure.

Now I’d like to tell you the story of another president [who] also came into office during a massive crisis, but he hardly made things better. He created just 325,000 jobs over his term. More than 100,000 teachers were laid off, while the manufacturing industry lost 635,000 positions. Home prices slumped to a nine-year low, and 3 million homes went into foreclosure.

How Confirmation Bias Works, Venn Diagram Graphic
A simple graphic summary of confirmation bias

In both cases, the president in question is Barack Obama and, in both cases, the facts are accurate but each of these equally factual accounts conjures a reality that antagonizes the other. In these, as well as other useful examples in his article, Goldfarb shows just how strikingly malleable fact-based ‘objectivity’ can become in the insidious presence of confirmation bias and attribution errors (i.e. did the president affect the jobs of millions all by himself or were other factors at play too?). None of this is to say that facts are unimportant, of course. The point is that factual accuracy can’t even prove instances of news are more than literal nonsense, much less whether the news is objective or trustworthy.

Scientific Objectivity

Sensory Environment of the Brain and Objectivity, GraphicPhysics — arguably the most objective field there is — provides another good reason to be skeptical of journalistic objectivity. Among scientists who study subatomic particles, it is common knowledge that, as far as physicists can tell, it seems to be impossible to observe anything at all without interacting with it and, even if only very slightly, changing it. This is because of how perception works. When vision appears in the eye, it is no magical streaming-service but light particles rapidly striking the retina in specific patterns determined by the geometry of surfaces off which the light is scattering. And not only is this how vision works but also scientific instruments— telescopes, microscopes, or the like may alter the input and expensive widgets like electron-microscopes can even re-create the process with machine-like precision but, in the end, all of it is still just photons running into stuff. Ultimately, to see any part of reality, someone somewhere needs to hurl at least one photon right into its face. And the same basic thing applies to the other senses.

For scientists, this is no problem — the obvious solution is simply to acknowledge the subject’s impact on the object so that measurements can be corrected accordingly. But if so many rigorous scientists can freely admit that even the most empirical disciplines fall short of true objectivity, how can anchors and journalists claim to be anywhere near it?

The Myth of Objective News-Media

“When a saint walks by, the pickpocket sees only pockets” – Old Saying

The more fundamental issue with journalistic objectivity, however, is that the very act of selecting what news to report is irreversibly enmeshed in a journalist’s subjective experience. This article, for instance, is about the nature of objectivity in news media but — if its author were, say, a Californian living in Ventura County — then, the 100K acres lost to the Woolsey Fire would easily have seemed to be a more pressing topic and — if the author’s parents had been Honduran emigrants — he might have selected Trump’s present fiasco at the southern border as a topic instead.

To report something as news is always to also assert that a thing is important and worthy of being reported. Outside a small array of world-historical events that hold a universal importance that is likely to trump other headlines (think: world war, huge natural disaster, alien invasion, etc), the immense majority of news stories possess only a limited and subjectively-determined importance. Despite a near-universal awareness of the profound non-importance of celebrity gossip found in rags like US Weekly or People magazine, the fact of its existence is points to the existence of groups of people with definite interests in asserting such media’s importance. The existence of media devoted to fashion, finance, travel, etc., all reveal the existence of classes with enough money and leisure time to buy fancy clothes, invest, or take vacations and, in turn, the many forms of media in its totality reveals an intersectional kaleidoscope of class-interests that are served by each.

The Irrevocably Subjective Perspective of Class, Race, etc.

Intersectionality as a Media Filter, GraphicThe flip-side, of course, is that stories with incredible importance for marginalized communities are only rarely considered ‘worthy’ of attention. Take what happened to water-protectors at Oceti Sakowin and other camps on unceded territory at Standing Rock during 2016 and ‘17. The indifference of most news-outlets in regards to those events was not so much an issue of non-objectivity or inaccuracy as an instance of the commentariat and career-political class simply neglecting a story that was outside — and, in a lot of ways, in conflict with — their collective interest. Meanwhile, national newspapers kept printing whole sections of news about the stock market and nevermind that nearly 90% of all value in stocks is held by just 10% of everyone because those who own and manage news-firms genuinely cannot imagine what it is like not to care — to have no reason to care— about stocks.

Subjectivity, Objectivity, & Totality in News Media

To fully understand what is happening when objectivity is asserted in media, it is necessary to look at the greater context that objectivity relates to. In broad terms, a person is considered “objective” to the extent that she has severed herself from all subjective relation to the question at hand. In other words, an objective viewpoint is supposed to stand over, above, and outside the object of investigation. From the objective point of view, the world is presumed to appear as it would appear if there was no person to subjectively experience it, which is to say that a perspective of objectivity can only exist under conditions that are not just sanitized of meaning and incoherent by definition but impossible to boot.

In the case of news media, the object (ostensibly) is society itself, its internal motions of development, and its relations to forces external to society. An objective news-media would then look something like field-notes taken by a dispassionate alien observer documenting events from a vantage-point beyond the petty concerns of human and social existence. With that in mind, the question of whether The New York TimesWall Street JournalReuters, et al makes the cut is barely worth asking and the idea that a particular journalist or editorial board (or anyone, for that matter) is meaningfully nearer to such a real objectivity than the rest is not just stupid but arrogantly so.

Death to Objectivity, Long Live Situated Knowledges!

“My relation to my environment is my consciousness”
– Karl Marx

But given how absurd it is to ask subjective fragments for an objective image of the social whole, what then for journalism — ? Is news media doomed to slosh around the tepid swamp of relativism, eternally frustrated by an utter void of certainty in a postmodern hellscape? Not exactly. It is not just valid but useful and necessary to distinguish accurate from inaccurate news-media but to claim greater objectivity beyond matters of fact is ultimately rooted in the appeal to spooky authority. In her 1988 essay on the topic, feminist scholar Donna Haraway identifies this as a “conquering gaze from nowhere,” arguing that notions of ‘scientific objectivity’ tend to privilege the views of dominant social-classes at the expense of others and that objectivity could be more usefully re-framed in terms of situated knowledge. “The moral is simple,” Haraway explains, “only partial perspective promises objective vision.”

“The ‘eyes’ made available in modern technological sciences [telescopes, electron microscopes, et cetera] shatter any idea of passive vision; these prosthetic devices show us that all eyes, including our own organic ones, are active perceptual systems, building on translations and specific ways of seeing, that is, ways of life” [emphasis mine -JL]

Rather than abstracting a disfigured reality as it would be under imagined objective conditions — that is, conditions, which above all should never actually be observed — valid observations and analyses can be engaged as knowledgesthat are situated in shifting social, economic, and historical edifice. To access more rigorous analyses of media, critical thinkers must abandon the indefensible idea that factual instances of media somehow possess unequal yet non-measurable claims to objectivity.

The concept of objectivity is valid in fields of study that work with abstraction intentionally like philosophy and epistemology — but the concept is dysfunctional when applied in fields that are practical, social, material, human. Approaching media as a constellation of what Haraway’s essay describes as “detailed, active, partial way[s] of organizing worlds” makes everyone who participates in making or presenting knowledge “answerable for what we learn how to see.” Rather than taking the uncritical relativist approach of liberal trash-philosophers who legitimize every opinionated bumper-sticker as part of a rainbow of equally valid views, instances of media can be taken as narratives that are situated at definite locations in history and class-society.


Pundits, journalists, and media executives alike exist as living, breathing intersections of social class, sex, race, and nationality that shape the narrative they present and, insofar as a story is accurate in fact and in good faith, all of this should enrich and contextualize the story, not compromise it. Approaches that exclusively seek the ‘objective’ minimize, erase, and dismiss all of this critically enriching information as subjective waste-matter that is, at best, irrelevant. But even more interesting is how convenient this is for those privileged few who never want to discuss things like inequality, systemic racism and sexism, worker exploitation, the literal fact† that capitalist vampire-squids are sucking out the planet’s insides, or other things that might disrupt the stasis of the present order.

The last thing to understand is that there is no conclusion here — or at most, a partial one — because anything else would miss the point, which is that real understanding never concludes. To conclude is to circumscribe the Narrative, to define the limits of what is true and valid, and to say that no more needs to be included because what is essential has already been stated. And objectivity — that conquering gaze from nowhere — is just a spectre often invoked to imbue these conclusions with an air of authority and finality that neither privilege nor complacency deserves.

In solidarity,
John Laurits

‘It Is Time for Progressives of the World to Unite’: Sanders-Varoufakis Issue Open Call for New Global Movement

“Our Progressive International will reclaim our communities, our cities, our countries, and our planet with a bold International New Deal that we will work, together, to deliver.”

To unify the global left and defeat the rise of fascism worldwide, reads the call to action from the newly-formed Progressive International, "we cannot simply go back to the failed status quo of the last few decades. Unfettered  globalization promised peace and prosperity. But it delivered  financial crisis, needless war, and disastrous climate change, instead." (Image: Progressive International / with overlay)

To unify the global left and defeat the rise of fascism worldwide, reads the call to action from the newly-formed Progressive International, “we cannot simply go back to the failed status quo of the last few decades. Unfettered  globalization promised peace and prosperity. But it delivered  financial crisis, needless war, and disastrous climate change, instead.” (Image: Progressive International / with overlay)


BURLINGTON, VT – With fascist movements on the rise and controlling the levers of power in the United States and across the world, the U.S.-based Sanders Institute and Europe’s DiEM25—the groups founded by Jane Sanders and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, respectively—announced the launch of Progressive International on Friday with the goal of beating back right-wing forces with an organized “grassroots movement for global justice.”

“Today, on behalf of DiEM25 and The Sanders Institute, we issue a Call to Action: to create a global network of individuals and organizations that will fight together for dignity, peace, prosperity and the future of our planet… Join us.” —Progressive International

“There is a global war being waged against workers, against our environment, against democracy, against decency,” declares the Progressive International’s open call to join the movement, which was unveiled Friday evening by Varoufakis and Sanders, wife of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), during The Sanders Institute Gathering in Burlington, Vermont.

“A network of right-wing factions is collaborating across borders to erode human rights, silence dissent, and promote intolerance. Not since the 1930 has humanity faced such an existential threat,” the call continues. “To defeat them, we cannot simply go back to the failed status quo of the last few decades. Unfettered  globalization promised  peace and prosperity. But it delivered  financial crisis, needless war, and disastrous climate change, instead.”

As part of the launch, the group released the following video explaining why the new effort is needed—and enormity of the stakes:

Sign up for the call here. And read the full the call to action below:

There is a global war being waged against workers, against our environment, against democracy, against decency.

A network of right-wing factions is collaborating across borders to erode human rights, silence dissent, and promote intolerance. Not since the 1930 has humanity faced such an existential threat.

To defeat them, we cannot simply go back to the failed status quo of the last few decades. Unfettered globalization promised peace and prosperity. But it delivered  financial crisis, needless war, and disastrous climate change, instead.

The  time  has  come  for  progressives to form a grassroots movement for global  justice:  to mobilize workers, women and  the disenfranchised all around the world  behind a shared vision of democracy, prosperity, sustainability, and solidarity.

Our Progressive International will reach out to communities in every corner of the world to help build our shared vision.

Our Progressive International will stand by people who are already fighting to end inequality, exploitation, discrimination and environmental degradation.

Our Progressive International will reclaim our communities, our cities, our countries, and our planet with a bold International New Deal that we will work, together, to deliver.

It is time for progressives of the world to unite.

Today, on behalf of DiEM25 and The Sanders Institute, we issue a Call to Action: to create a global network of individuals and organizations that will fight together for dignity, peace, prosperity and the future of our planet.

Join us. Join Progressive International.

Visit the website for the new group here.

Australian Kids Defy Prime Minister With Climate Strike

Wochit News
Published on Nov 30, 2018

CNN reports that thousands of Australian children skipped school on Friday to protest for action on climate change. Organizers estimated that 15,000 students left their classrooms in 30 locations across the country. As the children prepared for three days of organized direct action, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said ” what we want is more learning in schools and less activism.” Two Central Victoria pupils started the “Strike 4 Climate Action.” 14-year-olds Harriet O’Shea Carre and Milou Albrecht, wrote a call to arms asking fellow children to join them in protest, stating: “Just going to school isn’t doing anything about climate change. And it doesn’t seem that our politicians are doing anything, or at least not enough, about climate change either.”

This video was produced by YT Wochit News using

Germany calls for France to give its UN Security Council seat to the EU

© Carlo Allegri, Reuters | Members vote during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council about the situation in Crimea at UN Headquarters in New York, USA, November 26, 2018.

Video by Jessica LE MASURIER

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2018-11-28

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz on Wednesday proposed that France give up its permanent seat on the UN Security Council and turn it into an EU seat, attracting a stinging French rebuke.

In a wide-ranging speech on the future of Europe, Scholz said that giving the European Union a spot on the Security Council would allow the bloc to speak “with one voice” on the global stage.

“We could perhaps imagine that in the medium term the French seat becomes an EU seat,” said Scholz, who is also Germany’s vice-chancellor.

“I realise this will take some convincing in Paris, but it would be a bold and smart goal.”

To lessen the pain of losing the powerful seat, France could become the permanent EU ambassador to the United Nations, he added.

Adam Plowright


Germany’s finance minister has proposed that France give up its permanent UN Security Council seat for an EU representative. How pro-EU is @EmmanuelMacron? (hint: not enough to do this. Top trolling tho)

But the suggestion was immediately shot down by the French ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud.

“It’s legally impossible because it would run counter to the Charter of the United Nations. Changing it would be politically impossible,” Araud tweeted.

“’This is an absolutely scandalous idea for the French mission here at the UN”, reported FRANCE 24’s correspondent in New York City, Jessica Le Masurier.

“It would run counter to the charter of the UN (…) a bloc cannot take a Security Council seat, only individual states rather than organisations can hold a Security Council seat,” she added.

France to become the EU’s sole representative in 2019

France has been one of the five permanent Security Council members since the body was first established in 1945 in the wake of World War II to prevent another large-scale conflict.

The permanent members, which also includes Britain, China, Russia and the United States, are the most influential countries in the 193-member United Nations because they hold the right to veto UN resolutions.

Once Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, France will be the bloc’s sole representative on the Council.

There have been repeated calls in the past to reform the UNSC, with large emerging nations in particular clamouring for a place at the table.

In 2010, then-US president Barack Obama voiced support for India’s efforts to become a permanent Council member.

Brazil and Japan have expressed similar ambitions, while African nations have called for two permanent seats to better represent a continent they say has been historically overlooked.

Europe at a crossroads

French President Emmanuel Macron called on lawmakers in the German parliament last month to help create a “stronger, more sovereign Europe”.

“Europe cannot play its role if it becomes the plaything of great powers and contents itself with a supporting role on the global stage,” he said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Macron’s speech, saying Europe was “at a crossroads” over its future.

In the past, she and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas have both called for individual EU countries’ seats on the UNSC to be “Europeanised”.

When Germany was selected to hold one of the 10 non-permanent seats for two years from January 2019, Maas promised Berlin would “interpret it in a European way”.

“We want to show that we take the common European seat seriously. Because that remains our aim,” he added.

Scholz’s sally was the latest way Germany has sought to dispel accusations it has failed to respond to Macron’s ambitious hopes to reform the EU and the euro single currency.

While German leaders appear open to deeper cooperation in fields like defence, many have deep reservations about Macron’s plans to equip the eurozone with a centrally managed budget, fearing wealthy countries could end up footing spendthrift neighbours’ bills.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2018-11-28

Berkeley’s old city hall to become a winter homeless shelter

Council’s last meeting there Tuesday (

About 5 people and other supporters set up their tents outside the former City Hall at Martin Luther King Jr. and Alston ways in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. in protest. The building will now be used as a winter homeless shelter.(Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 


BERKELEY — For years, the Berkeley City Council passed laws, fielded public comments and hashed out local and occasionally international policies inside its chambers in the old downtown city hall. No more.

Starting next Tuesday, the whole two-story building will serve a different purpose: giving homeless people a roof over their heads during the cold rainy winter.

The council held its last meeting on Tuesday at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, during which it instructed the city manager to convert the building to a temporary, makeshift winter shelter. The council is to decide at its next Meeting on Dec. 4 whether to put $60,000 toward operating the shelter.

The Dorothy Day House, which operates other shelters in Berkeley, plans to have the new one up and running by then, when the next round of storms is expected to hit, said executive director David Stegman. The organization hopes to house 50 to 60 people a night in the building, which will open whenever it’s raining or the temperature drops below 40 degrees for a total of up to 45 days until spring.

“It would have sent a horrible message to the city of Berkeley if we left a big building vacant and boarded up at a time when homeless people need to get off the streets and nonprofits are desperately looking for affordable space,” council member Kriss Worthington said in an interview.

Worthington said the city needed a winter shelter location and vacant city hall made made sense. The city had allowed the North Berkeley Senior Center to be used as a shelter, but it’s scheduled to be renovated and unavailable during the rainy season. The city at one time also used the former Premier Cru wine company’s warehouse as a shelter, as well as the Frances Albrier Community Center at San Pablo Park.

The city of Oakland operates an emergency shelter during the rainy season at the St. Vincent De Paul center and Santa Clara County operates a winter shelter in Sunnyvale.

Berkeley estimates there are 917 homeless people in Berkeley, 664 of whom live in cars, on the streets or other places not meant for habitation, according to a 2017 homelessness point-in-time count.

While it’s unusual to use city halls for homeless shelters, other cities have tried similar approaches. Seattle earlier this year converted its City Hall lobby to an overnight shelter that accommodates about 100 people.

There also was a push in San Jose to convert a closed City Hall Annex to housing for the homeless, but Santa Clara County, which owns the building, said it was uninhabitable. County supervisors voted to demolish the building.

Having Berkeley’s old city hall regularly used also will prevent break-ins, Worthington said.

Earlier this year, city officials decided to hold public meetings at the Berkeley Unified School District board room at 1231 Addison St. because the old city hall chambers was too small, the seats were uncomfortable and the building is due for a seismic retrofit, Worthington said. City offices moved to 2180 Milvia St. years ago.

Stegman said the building is ideal for a shelter. It’s down the street from a drop-in center and other services, it’s easy to find, and it’ll be able to open the doors earlier than other shelters, which typically don’t take in the homeless until about 10 p.m., he said.

The shelter at the old city hall building will be open from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m., Stegman said. It’s only available to adults, though people are allowed to bring their pets. It’s first come, first served, he said.

The building also will be used by Berkeley Community Media to store equipment and to teach classes.

The building still needs to be seismically retrofitted, Worthington said, but until that happens there are no other plans for it. The long-term goal is to convert it back to city offices, but that won’t be for at least another five years, he said.

Note from Mike Zint:

“Inside is better than outside.”


MON, 11/26/2018 – BY KIM WILLSHER


Police have used teargas and water cannon against fuel tax protesters in Paris after violent clashes erupted on the Champs Élysées.

Thousands of demonstrators from all over France massed on the famous boulevard on Saturday to express their anger at the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and his government. But what was supposed to be a peaceful protest by the gilets jaunes (yellow jackets) movement degenerated rapidly.

On one side, protesters reportedly infiltrated by far-right extremists and casseurs (rioters and hooligans) tore up paving stones and hurled them and other missiles at police before building barricades that they set alight. On the other, police used teargas, pepper spray, water cannon and bulldozers to clear the road.

Each time the police advanced, protesters rebuilt the barricades, using metal barriers from roadworks and construction sites, rubbish bins and anything else they could find. Many gilets jaunes attempted to withdraw as violence erupted, but were hampered by advancing police. Others retreated, but vowed to remain at the protest. “We were here as pacifists and we were gassed. But we will stay here all day because Macron has to listen,” said one man, who gave his name as Jacques.

A week ago around 280,000 gilets jaunes took part in protests at more than 2,000 locations across France. The demonstrations left two dead and more than 600 injured. The movement, sparked by rises in tax on fuel, has no official leaders and has expressly shunned any political affiliation. Unofficial representatives had called on protesters to bring Paris to a standstill on Saturday.

The demonstrators had been told to stay at the official protest site designated by the French authorities – the Champ de Mars by the Eiffel Tower – and to keep away from a number of sensitive sites in the city, including the Champs Élysées and Place de la Concorde near the Elysée palace.

The first arrivals were angry and frustrated, feeling abandoned by their leaders and determined to make their voices heard. Those who spoke to the Observer were of all ages, held a wide range of jobs or were unemployed, and of various political persuasions. None of those who spoke to journalists – on or off the record – appeared to be looking for a fight.

“We’re here because we’ve had enough,” said Joel Mouilleseaux, 24, a student. “It’s always the same people who have to pay for the madness of others. We have to work to pay, work some more to pay some more and it’s been like that for years. It’s been like it since I was born, president after president, and now we’re saying, that’s enough.”

He said he had voted for an independent candidate at the last election. “Left, right, for me it’s the same, always the same. I want to be heard, listened to and have a response.”

Bruno Binelli, 66, a retired carpenter from Lyon, said: “I’m not in any political party. I often vote Front National, but I’m not Front National. It’s not my mentality – and besides, I’m Italian by origin – but I do it out of protest, to say things are not good, and if you continue like this we will end up electing someone from the extreme right.

“But they don’t listen to us. Macron listens to nothing. He’s suddenly concerned about ecology, but it’s a lie: it’s a pretext to make us pay more tax. We no longer know what kind of car to buy: petrol, diesel, electric, who knows? I have a little diesel van and I don’t have the money to buy a new one, especially as I’m about to retire. We have the feeling those from the countryside are forgotten.”

Many talked of desperation at trying to make ends meet. As they passed the designer stores off the Champs Élysées, their complaints over inequality appeared to strike a chord: TV pundits spoke of an “insurrection of the people against the elites”.

France’s centrist government blamed the far right, who along with other politicians blamed Macron. Polls suggest the gilets jaunes have the support of almost 80% of French people. Even more think Macron should abandon plans to impose higher taxes on petrol and diesel. A BVA opinion poll on Friday found Macron’s popularity had slipped to a new low, with only 26% of French people having a favourable opinion of the president, a drop of three points since last month.

Macron said in a strongly worded tweet on Saturday: “Shame on those who attacked (police). Shame on those who were violent against other citizens … No place for this violence in the Republic.”

The interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said around 8,000 gilets jauneshad gathered in the city by midday on Saturday, 5,000 of them on the Champs Élysées. He claimed that responsibility for the violence lay with the far-right leader Marine Le Pen. “Marine Le Pen urged people to come to the Champs Élysées, and there are members of the ultra-right putting up barriers,” Castaner said.

He described the rioters as “seditious”. He said: “They have responded to Marine Le Pen’s call and want to take the institutions of state. We want people to be responsible.

“The right to demonstrate is a fundamental right and we will protect that, but we cannot protect those carried away by violence … those who only want to protest should pull back from this violence and denounce it.”

In response Le Pen, head of the far-right Rassemblement National, previously known as the Front National, told the news channel BFM TV that the accusations were unjust. She blamed the violence on “a few rioters”. “Why did Mr Castaner let these people on to the Champs Élysées? He is responsible. It’s a strategy of tension,” she said.

Le Pen accused the minister of trying to discredit the gilets jaunes movement.

On Saturday evening, Castaner said that 106,000 people had taken part in protests across France, and 130 had been arrested, 42 of them in Paris. The Paris police prefecture said there were 19 injured, among them four gendarmes.

Originally published by The Guardian

Gilets Jaunes, yellow jackets, fuel tax, Emmanuel Macron, French protests, climate protection measures
Gilets Jaunes, yellow jackets, fuel tax, Emmanuel Macron, French protests, climate protection measures