GRAY PANTHERS
of the East Bay

panther

(This site last updated: July 26, 2014)

Our office is located in the rear of the
Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library
This is on the west side of Telegraph, just north of Alcatraz.
It's accessible via #1 and #1R buses.
Address:
Gray Panthers of the East Bay
6501 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

Phone: 510-595-9696.
Email: graypanthersberk@aol.com


Other contacts -- co-convenors
Steve Geller -- sgeller6@gmail.com
Edie Hallberg -- ediepnthr@gmail.com

No Meeting in August

There will be no membership meeting in August.

July 23 Membership Meeting

The July 2014 membership meeting was on Wednesday July 23, 1:30pm at North Berkeley Senior Center

There were speakers about Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Click here for a report.

June 25 Membership Meeting

The June membership meeting featured Richmond's Mayor Gayle McLaughlin speaking on the topic:
The Road to a Progressive Future Runs through Richmond, CA
Here is a summary report.
If you as an individual are interested in working on her campaign, click here.


Panther Deaths

We are saddened to report the death of two Berkeley Gray Panthers.

Avis Worthington passed away on June 14 11:00 AM.

Formerly a reporter for the infamous Berkeley Barb, Avis edited and published our East Bay Berkeley Gray Panther Newsletter for many years.

Her newsletters are now archived in the Berkeley history section of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

She loved politics, history, and writing, published historical novels and loved to watch current history on CSPAN.

We will miss her greatly.

Avis is remembered by two sons and their families particularly her grandson Peter whom which she brought to Gray Panther meetings in a stroller at the age of two.

There was a memorial gathering on June 29.

Long-time Gray Panther Eva Bluestein died in June.
Eva was born in Berlin. She spent World War II in occupied France, dodging Nazi persecution of Jews by living underground.
Before coming to the Bay Area, Eva was convenor of the Los Angeles gray panthers for many years.
Here in Berkeley, Eva kept us up to date on the wars and injustice in the world. She will be sorely missed.
Here is the announcement of her memorial.


Greenwald Talk about Snowden and NSA

Steve Geller and Claire Risley attended the talk given by journalist Glenn Greenwald about his new book "No Place to Hide."

Here is a report.

Resources and Links

For links to all US Government departments and agencies, plus to special federal portals for disability and senior citizen resources and information useful to parents, teachers and youth.

Go to this page.

April 6 2014 -- Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panther MOVIE and PARTY

The movie "Cradle Will Rock" was very good. The event was well-attended and everyone had a good time.
Here's a review by Leeza Vinogradov.

July 25 -- Monthly Peace Rally

The MONTHLY PEACE RALLIES held on the 3rd Friday of each month
are put on by Strawberry Creek Lodge and the Gray Panthers.
The next Peace Rally will be on July 25, 2-3pm at University & Acton in Berkeley.
These one-hour rallies are fun.
We wave signs: "Jobs Not Wars" and "Honk for Peace".
Marv plays the guitar and we sing "If I had a Hammer", "This Little Light of Mine", "Where Have All the Flowers Gone", "I want to be in that number, when Justice Rules instead of Might" and other favorites.
Passing cars honk and people wave at us.
It's just for an hour and it's at a 51B bus stop.
The June 20 rally was lots of fun. Julie Bidou came in a wheelchair. We got honks from two big trucks and a cement mixer. People are really thinking about the prospect of more war in Iraq.

July 26 Birthday Party for the Berkeley Post Office

It’s the 239th birthday of the United States Post Office and the 100th birthday of the Berkeley Post Office! There will be a party to celebrate, on July 26.

Click here for the details.

July 30 Social Security Protest

There will be a protest against the latest attempt to destroy our Social Security system. They are cutting back hours of service.
On July 30, 11am-1pm, there will be a protest in front of the Social Security office on Allston Street in Berkeley.


Our East Bay Gray Panther Newsletters Online

To display the July 2014 Newsletter click here

To display June 2014 Newsletter click here

To display May 2014 Newsletter click here

To display the pages of the March 2014 Newsletter, click here.

To display the pages of the Jan-Feb 2014 Newsletter, click here.

Tax The Rich

Every Monday, the "Tax the Rich" rally gathers near the top of Solano Avenue (5-6pm)
Click here for some background.
Click here to see how our tax system rewards the rich.



Comment from Michael Lyon (San Francisco Gray Panthers):

Why we shouldn't be celebrating the slowdown in healthcare spending

Physicians for a National Health Plan’s Don McCanne, commenting on two Obama Administration reports celebrating a recent decrease in healthcare spending, and attributing this decrease, in part, to Obamacare. Although healthcare advocates frequently cite cost-control as an advantage of single-payer, we need to be nuanced about cost-control.

As single-payer advocate and former New England Journal of Medicine editor Marcia Angell pointed out at the last PNHP meeting, unless we get rid of healthcare profits of insurance, hospital chains, doctors group practices, and drug companies, healthcare spending reductions will come by reducing the healthcare we get.

This is a sobering thought we need to take seriously.


Senator Bernie Sanders has Ten Fair Ways to Reduce the Deficit and Create Jobs.



For the Gray Panther Calendar of Events click here.

How to update this calendar, add events.


For a CHART to help you understand Obamacare, click here.


Social Security 78th Birthday

Read article on the 78th birthday of Social Security.

Here's a great letter responding to the notorious Senator Alan Simpson about Social Security.

Protecting Seniors from Financial Abuse

Here's a summary report on a presentation at South Berkeley Senior Center.


The May 2014 membership meeting was on May 28. It featured the Labor Chorus in a program honoring labor history and workers including narrative and music at North Berkeley Senior Center.
Here is a report.

The April 2014 membership meeting was on April 23
The speakers were Larry Kolb and Sonia Diermayer from the Sierra Club
Topic: "WATER CRISIS IN CALIFORNIA"
Here is the summary report on their talk.

The March 2014 membership meeting took place on March 26.
The speaker was Tessa D’arcangelew, Organizer for ACLU of Northern California
Topic: "Big Brother IS Watching You and How It Is Done"
Here is the summary report.

The February 2014 general membership meeting was held on Wednesday, February 26, 1:30 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center. The speaker's topic was Obamacare.
Click here for a summary report.

The January 2014 membership meeting wwas held at 1:30pm on Wednesday, January 22, 2014, at North Berkeley Senior Center. The speaker was Victor Menotti, Executive Director of International Forum on Globalization. He gave a talk on the TPP -- Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Click here for a summary report.

The October 2013 general membership meeting of Gray Panthers of the East Bay was on October 16. The speaker was Pennie Opal Plant, on the subject: "The Tar Sands: Pipelines and Climate Chaos"

Here is a summary report on what she said.

The September 2013 membership meeting was held Sept 25 at North Berkeley Senior Center.

The speaker was Toby Blomé. An activist with CODEPINK, Toby has been very involved in the drone warfare resistance movement in the U.S. She was part of a CODEPINK legation to Pakistan, to learn firsthand about the consequences of drone warfare in Pakistan and to support the growing resistance to U.S. drone strikes.

Here is Steve Geller's report on her talk

There was no meeting in August 2013.

The July 2013 membership meeting was held July 24 at the North Berkeley Senior Center.
The speaker was Gray Brechin, on the subject of the Post Office (Berkeley and elsewhere)
Here is the summary report.
Here's a Daily Cal article written by Gray Brechin.

On June 26, 2013, Steve Geller spoke on public transit for senior citizens.
Here is a report and summary.

Here's a report on the David Bacon talk, on immigration at the May 22, 2013 membership meeting.

David Bacon passed out a model letter to DHS Secretary Napolitano, urging her to stop the I-9 audits.
Click here for an abbreviated version which you can print out, sign and send personally.


The Panther Membership Meeting on April 24, 2014 featured Adam Scow of Food and Water Watch, talking about fracking.
Here is the full report.

Click here to read the report on the Cindy Sheehan talk at the March 27, 2013 membership meeting.

Click here for the report on the February 27 membership meeting, during which new officers were elected. Speaker was Keith Carson..

Membership meeting January 23, 2013 the featured speaker was Gus Newport.
Here's the report.

Here is a report on the general membership meeting held on October 24, 2012, about the present and future of the Occupy Movement


Gray Panther General Membership meeting on June 27,2012 speaker was Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, Trustee, Peralta Community College
Topic: The Crisis in Education
Here is the report

The Gray Panther membership meeting on May 23, 2012 featured a talk by Cecile Pineda, about Fukushima and the nuclear industry.
Here is the report.


April 25, 2012 Gray Panther Membership Meeting was about the changing nature of War under Obama
Speaker: Activist Janet Weil of Code Pink.
Here's the report.


March 28, 2012 Membership meeting on was about the Attack on Women. Here is the report.

Membership meeting on February 22,2012 was about prison reform. Here is the Report.


***We're open to ideas for future general membership meetings. What are your interests? Send us a postal mail with suggestions.


goBerkeley

Berkeley's Mayor Bates has shown some exciting leadership in the fight against downtown traffic congestion. It's called goBerkeley.

Affordable Housing

There's plenty of housing available for low-income people, but the system does not manage it well.
Read this article from the SF Chronicle about the public housing mess in The City.
There really should be better ways to connect people with affordable housing. A Panther project?

Richmond's Eminent Domain

The City of Richmond proposes rescuing people who are "underwater" with their homes by using eminent domain to get the mortgage adjusted. This article is from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Here's another article, from SALON

Obama's Shakedown of Medicare

Read this article.

Colonoscopies

Colonoscopy procedures are a leading reason for high health care costs.

Read this article from the New York Times.

Panther Position

Gray Panthers believe that post-retirement years should be spent in dignity and security. In addition to our strong support for Social Security, we support union movements that gain and protect pension rights for both government and private-sector jobs. Existing government pensions must be protected for both current and future retirees.

We are tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
We are not allowed to support candidates for office, but we may support Propositions and Measures.

Click here for a list of Progressive Principles.


Every Monday, the "Tax the Rich" rally gathers near the top of Solano Avenue (5-6pm)
Click here for more details.

Every 3rd friday, come to the Anti-War Demonstration -- Say No to War 2-3 p.m. corner of Acton & University. Sponsored by Strawberry Creek Lodge Tenants Association & Berkeley Gray Panthers. (some signs available on site)
Next Peace Rally 2-3pm, Friday July 19at University & Acton, Berkeley, at the bus stop near "Pizza Moda" (formerly "Divino's" restaurant).

Here are some pictures from past peace rallies.
Picture from the August rally
Picture 1 (Margot's big photo)
Picture 2
Picture 3

Living Graveyard -- every third Mondays, noon - 1 p.m.
Oakland Federal Building, 1303 Clay Street
two blocks from 12th Street BART

Names read of Californians died in Iraq
Please bring a white sheet to cover yourself.
A pad to lie on is recommended.

(510)655-1162 www.epicalc.org

The Affordable Care Act in California: What to Expect in 2014

(article from 5/24/2013 San Francisco Chronicle)

The affordable Care Act came into clearer focus Thursday when the state named the health insurers who will make their policies available to Californians under the federal health reform law at rates tentatively lower than some experts had expected. The policies will be offered to millions of individual consumers through a new state-run, online health insurance exchange, or marketplace, that will start selling insurance Oct. 1.

Covered California, the state agency in charge of the exchange, named 13 insurance carriers that will participate in the program. They are a mix of large and smaller, or regional, insurers - from Kaiser Permanente and Anthem Blue Cross to Alameda Alliance for Health and Chinese Community Health Plan.

Their plans will cost a statewide average of about $321 for all levels of coverage but starting from as little as $136 a month for the least-expensive catastrophic plan a 21-year-old could buy without any federal government help. The rates, established after months of negotiations with insurers, will need approval by state regulators, but Covered California officials were happy with the results.

"Across the nation, we've heard the doom-and-gloom predictions of the Affordable Care Act would lead to staggering premium increases," said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. "Because of the ACA, we've hit a home run for consumers. We have affordable rates, we have better coverage and real choice for consumers across the entire state."

Who can buy the plans Starting Jan. 1, 2014, most Americans will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty. Since many people are already covered by their employer, the plans being offered apply to the smaller segment of the population that has to buy coverage individually. In California, that's an estimated 5.3 million people.

The plans will be standardized, ranging from bronze to platinum based on cost and breadth of coverage. A less-expensive catastrophic plan will be offered to people under 30, or others who can prove they're experiencing financial hardship. About 2.6 million of the more than 5 million people eligible to buy coverage through Covered California are expected to quality for federal subsidies that will help them pay for the insurance. For rate-setting purposes, Covered California divided the state into 19 regions, meaning how much the consumer pays will be influenced by where he or she lives. Some areas have more than half a dozen plan options, but at least three options are available in every region.

In San Francisco, where five plans will be available, a 25-year-old who does not qualify or a subsidy could pay as little as $174 a month for a bronze-level plan offered by Chinese Community Health Plan or $270 a month for the same level of coverage from Health Net. A 40-year-old San Franciscan could pay anywhere from $221 for a bronze plan from Chinese Community Health Plan to $525 for the top-end platinum plan from Anthem Blue Cross. Consumer variables Since the benefits are standardized, ealth experts say a key point for consumers will likely be any differences in a plan's network of hospitals and doctors. While the plans include some of the biggest players - Kaiser, Anthem, Blue Shield, Health Net - some other major companies - UnitedHealth Group, Aetna and Cigna - opted not to sell in the exchange. But Covered California officials said the 13 companies they selected offer the right amount of choice and variety, including a mix of large and smaller options as well as nonprofit and for-profit players.

"We have a great competitive marketplace for consumers," Lee said. "If you look at the plans we're offering, we have the four largest health insurers in the individual marketplace today that represent about 80 percent of the market."

A report issued in March by the actuarial firm Milliman estimated premiums for Californians who make too much money to qualify for federal subsidies could skyrocket by as much as 30 percent next year because of the broader benefits and the federal law's requirement for insurers to cover people regardless of pre-existing medical conditions.

Critics: Sticker shock

Blue Shield estimated that premiums for the insurer's consumers would go up an average of 13 percent, said the company's chef executive officer, Paul Markovich. Still, some critics say Californians will face sticker shock because they currently have plans that are cheaper, but do not conform to new federal rules, meaning they will have to abandon them. "Consumers in California are going to see a dramatic increase in price over what they are paying today not only because the insurance market is being reformed ... but they are being required to buy much richer plans," said Robert Laszewski, a former insurance executive who works as a health consultant.

But officials representing the exchange say the new law protects people against medical bankruptcy while offering comprehensive coverage. Small employers will also be able to offer health insurance to employees through Covered California next year. Those options will be announced early next month.

Covered California

The following plans were selected to offer health insurance coverage to individuals through Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace, which will start selling coverage for 2014 on Oct. 1:

For more information, visit Covered California at: www.coveredca.com .

What will it cost me? Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace, revealed the health insurance plans that will be offered and some tentative cost information based on approximate age, geography and level of coverage. A "catastrophic" plan is available to those under 30, but, in most cases, the four "metal" choices range from bronze to platinum. Consumers will have to wait until Oct. 1 to find out exactly what they will be paying, depending on age, family size and income, but here are some estimates:
San Francisco: In the city, consumers can choose among five insurers and various levels of coverage. A 25-year-old who does not qualify for federal subsidies could pay as little as $174 a month for a bronze-level plan offered through Chinese Community Health Plan or $270 a month for the same level of coverage offered through Health Net. A 40-year-old could pay anywhere from $221 for a bronze plan from Chinese Community Health Plan to $525 for the top-end platinum plan from Anthem Blue Cross.
North Bay: Those living in Napa, Sonoma, Solano and Marin counties also have five options. The low end for a 25-year-old is $164 for a catastrophic plan from Health Net. A 40-year-old could pay $257 a month for a bronze plan through Western Health Advantage or up to $507 for platinum-level coverage from Health Net.
Northern California: In the Northern California region that covers 22 counties from Mendocino to Del Norte, consumers can choose from among three carriers. A 25-year-old could pay $157 a month for a catastrophic plan from Anthem Blue Cross. A 40-year-old could pay a monthly premium of $234 for an Anthem bronze-level plan or up to $458 for a platinum-level Kaiser policy.
Source: Covered California


Interesting Items

Report on the April 15 debate at UC about Single-Payer vs Market-Based health insurance.
Click here.

Article about impact of sequestration on Medicare

Report on The Health Care Movie about efforts toward universal national health insurance.

Open House for California Assembly in Oakland

Report on meeting about single-payer, held in San Francisco, basement of Saint Mary's Cathedral
Click here.

Training Bus Drivers -- Prodded by mail we received from a bus driver, I sent an inquiry to the AC Transit Board about how they train their drivers, especially on unfamiliar routes.

Here's the letter, followed by the nice response I received.
Click here.

LA Times Article on the nefarious motivation for privatizing the US Post Office.



Ecumenical Peace Institute

Website: click here.


Read this letter from Alan Simpson to CARA, complaining about CARA's leafleting of the Simpson-Bowles talk at Paramount Theater.

CARA (California Asociation of Retired Americans) has a list of Priority Bills


Housing Issues

***Eleanor Walden, housing chair, is especially looking for any news/rumors about housing issues.
Contact her at 510-848-6397 or 510-847-2579 (cell)
Her email is ewalden@comcast.net
She has a website: www.eleanorwalden.com


Current Gray Panthers office Address in Oakland:
Berkeley - East Bay GRAY PANTHERS
6501 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

Phone: (510)595-9696
Email: GrayPanthersBerk@aol.com


East Bay Gray Panther Officers and Board
Steve Geller and Edith Hallberg, co-Convenors
Margot Smith -- co-convener emeriti, Coalition Health Care, Post Office
Julia Cato -- Secretary, CARA liason, Coalition Health Care
Chris Caldwell -- Treasurer
Avis Worthington -- Social Action, Newsletter
Carolyn Scarr -- United for Peace and Justice,(Ecumenical Peace Institute)
Leeza Vinogradov -- Code Pink liason
Edith Hallberg -- Labor Commission liason
Fran Rachel -- Third Friday Anti-War Rally with Strawberry Creek
Jeanne Dritz -- Health Care
Charles Robinson -- Kaiser
Steve Geller -- Transportation, Web Site, Tabling at Events
Eva Bluestein -- National and International Issues of Importance
Eleanor Walden -- Housing
Henry Clarence -- letter writing; help with Newsletter


Schedule for Staffing Panther office on Telegraph
Mondays    1-3   Jeannie Dritz
Tuesdays   1-3   Edie Hallberg and Leeza Vinogradov
Wednesdays 
Thursdays  10-12 Margot Smith
Thursdays        Chris Caldwell
Fridays    1-3   Henry Clarence

California Gray Panthers website: http://www.gpcal.org
List of all California networks
US National Gray Panthers website: http://www.graypanthers.org

This Website: http://berkeleygraypanthers.mysite.com

Webmaster: Steve Geller sgeller6@gmail.com


CARA Website -- California Alliance for Retired Americans

United Seniors of Oakland website


***Here are some letters sent from East Bay Gray Panthers to public officials by GP Secretary Henry Clarence

Letter to Senator Feinstein about Social Security

Letter supporting ILWU Local 10

Letter showing support for SB810

Some more LETTERS


What Class War Looks Like

It is most interesting to match up the "programs at risk" (targets for budget cuts) with selected tax breaks for the wealthy.
Click here for chart "This is What Class War Looks Like". (Sources for the figures are listed at the bottom of the page)

Constitution

Here is a statement by Dylan Ratigan. About "get money out of politics," the protesters today and some good history.

Social Security

Letter from GP National Vice Chair in Monday Jan 31 SF Chronicle
Strengthen Social Security
In the State of the Union address, while speaking at length on deficit reduction, President Obama referenced a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security. The program deserves far more robust support. For 75 years, Social Security has been America's most successful anti-poverty program. It is the most fiscally responsible part of our federal budget, paying entirely for itself and adding nothing to the deficit. The funds surplus is expected to reach $4.3 trillion by 2023, and the program is able to pay full benefits through 2037. About 85 percent of Americans oppose Social Security cuts. There is no reason it should be part of any deficit reduction plan. Yet the program faces threats from Congress. John Boehner calls for cuts in benefits and an increase in the eligibility age, delaying benefits for future recipients and unfairly burdening America's most vulnerable populations. Some seek to privatize the system, putting it into the hands of Wall Street, the very people who created our current economic crisis. President Obama appears to oppose these ideas, and as vice chair of the Gray Panthers national board, I urge Congress to lift the cap on taxable income, guaranteeing the benefits promised to current and future beneficiaries.
Brooke Hollister

For a guide to rebut all the lies about Social Security, click here.

Letter sent to President Obama about Social Security

Reparations for Women?

Proposal for Action Item calling for Reparations for Women who have been underpaid in the past and thus are getting lower social security today.


ObamaCare

Summary of ObamaCare talk at May 26 General Membership Meeting Click here for a summary.
If you have MicroSoft WORD installed, click here for a copy of the entire handout.

Housing Committee

Click here for information on senior and low-income housing.

Need Help Paying for Utilities?

Click here

Other Items

HICAP -- medical advice for seniors, call HICAP 1-800-434-0222

Roger Sanjek's book on the history of Gray Panthers.

Don't like banks paying their execs big money? You can move your money to another bank or to a credit union. Here's some information.

Checklist form for actions.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Click here for other useful phone numbers and websites.

Resources

"Word of Mouth trumps everything, even money"


Join Gray Panthers

Membership dues: $35/year, $15 low-income.

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East Bay Gray Panthers
6501 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

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