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Tuesday June 26, 2001

Keep large vehicles off streets  



The tone of your 6-21 lead article "Pedestrian death…" is distressingly familiar. A vehicle inflicted death is countered with calls for pedestrian protection, sidewalk safety, etc. No apparent thought that the emphasis is skewed, that Jayne Ash was simply crossing a street, her safety supposedly assured by the traffic signal; that she suffered death for no greater fault than an insufficiently developed sense of traffic paranoia. How naïve; she actually seemed to think that cities are primarily for people, that a green light signaled her safety. 

The driver who hurled her into death simply rolled through the intersection, not even aware that he had snuffed the existence of a lovely, vibrant young woman. And we; how odd that we simply accept her death as though it had been inflicted by lightning strike or earthquake, rather than by a bumbling behemouth of commerce.  

Can we observe Jayne’s death by no more significant action than a rather mild request for improved safety, for some sort of assurance that we may negotiate our streets without fear of death? Why is there no anger, no rising outrage at such an incident? 

For several days after her death the corner outside Berkeley Espresso bore flowers; the pole that supports the (ineffectual) traffic signals carried messages of love and grief. The flowers faded, withered, were swept away. Will our bland, meek acceptance condemn her to a random, meaningless death? Is our love and grief so miniscule we can do no better than this? 

Why do we tolerate these juggernauts on our streets? How difficult would it be to implement a loading dock in the industrial sector of town to load and unload these freeway monsters, a fleet of shuttles to deliver to and from retailers? 

Ah but the cost, proclaim the politicos. Yes, the cost. The first installment might come from the funds already allocated for downtown parking.  

Supposedly still under discussion, we hear. Anyone doubt the outcome of that discussion. And if a hole is dug under the city park on MLK to store empty automobiles, history informs us that two years later the same cry will be raised: more parking is needed, or we will strangle our downtown merchants  

But the contemporary news from Florida and other east coast locales indicates excluding cars revitalizes business; not more but less parking seems the key to merchant health.  

Not to mention the health of the rest of us. We all want to travel in our private capsules, separated from our fellows by an aggregate of 3 tons of steel; we all want to abandon them at will, without endless prowling for parking. Could Jayne Ash’s death be telling us that we are all wrong? 

Could our politicians but hear my voice as clearly as they do the mercantile forces to which they seem endlessly subservient, we would exclude monster vehicles from the streets we send our children out to negotiate. There would be a terminal outside our residential areas, and it would be named the Jayne Ash Memorial Truck Transport Terminus. 


Donald Schweter 



Pedestrian crossings: a daily drama 



Regarding your front page story of June 21, (vol.3 issue 62). Once again (c.f. March 28 vol. 2 issue 297) you have done a public service by keeping current on the deplorable lack of police acting to stop drivers who run red lights and who speed up when nearing pedestrian crossings to avoid having to stop for people crossing the street – if indeed they DO stop. 

If you are looking for excitement there is no need to go to some bloody shoot-em-in-the-face-etc.-movie, just sit near the pedestrian crossing between the French Hotel and the Post Office across the street on Shattuck Ave. and watch the hits and near misses of potential killer drivers. 

KEEP HOPE ALIVE ....that some day pedestrians will be safe in Berkeley, 


Max Stec 




McVeigh shows there’s a moral crisis in U.S.  



Yes! He was a murderer, but he was also a decorated-for-bravery soldier who was trained to kill and he applied what he learned to do a terrible, inexcusable and unthinkable thing. 

But it was his ghastly, lethal way to respond to what he saw as inexcusable federal government violence in Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge in Idaho against women, children and the elderly. 

Neither Timothy McVeigh nor anyone else saw or sees what the news starting on April 19, 1995, as a case of an American terrorist waging war against a rogue nation; a nation that sent 58,168 young American GI’s to fight and die in tiny Vietnam for what? A nation whose school children, it’s no exaggeration to point out, teach their teachers a lesson by shooting them between their eyes when confronted by a rule that’s not to their liking, or pair up to conduct a massacre that includes themselves as two did at Columbine High School in Colorado? 

One retired professor of social ethics and philosophy at a school of theology in Missouri writes that “most U.S. citizens accept their government’s view of ‘rogue states’ because the major news media parrot the Pentagon’s point of view.  

However, in nearly every case of suspected terrorism (in much of the world), the United States was in fact the original aggressor, using its own form of aggression to which the ‘rogue states’ were responding.” 

If we as a nation cannot now take Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words seriously when he says, in New York’s Riverside Church in 1967.  

“The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that they, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat.  

The image of America will never again be the image of violence and militarism,” and act on those words.  

The lesson to be learned from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing will not have been heeded, and we’ll sadly be forced to say that the 168 lives of innocent children, women and men, and obviously, as well as bafflingly guilty Timothy McVeigh’s were lost in vain. 

Our Missouri theologian believes; “Everyone, including Americans, would benefit from a prosperous, peaceful world.” And to his question “is this likely to ever happen?” he says, “not until the citizens and government officials of the United States put aside our collective ego at being a ‘superpower’ and seek for others the goals and values we seek for ourselves”. 

Hear this from the Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Detroit, Thomas J. Gumbleton “the evil we are evoking is the end of the world and the loss of our souls. Confronting this is the greatest spiritual question of our time.”  

We need to seek, listen, speak out and act! We need to condemn President Bush’s condemnation of the ABM treaty and promise of a wider discredited missile shield. 

When 673 law professors from 137 law schools in the United States declare that the five U.S. Supreme Court justices who voted to stop the recount of votes in Florida last December intentionally acted as political proponents for candidate Bush, not as ethical judges, we need to be aware that there’s a moral crisis in the U.S.A. that needs to be addressed. 


Al Williams 

















Dear Editor, 


Recently returned to our regular world of ups and downs and smooth and rough roads, I want to share some thoughts from my last six months of separateness and sadness. 

I am grateful that it lasted only six months as compared to a previous eighteen month period. I am grateful that I had already learned the value of medication and did not resisnt too long the need for change. 

I benefited from the loving patience and concern of my family and a few close friends and from the professional and library resourses of Kaiser Permanente Mediacal Center. I benefited from The Zen Path through Depression by Philip Martin, a gift from one of my sons. I benefited from a part time job which pays me to walk, that most heathy of physical activities. 

I know the City of Berkeley and Alta Bates Mediacal Center have Mental Health Services and the Berkeley Public Library has books on the subject. 

Even as I found myself increasingly unable to want to be with people, I clung tenuously to some kind of prayer life and some kind of worship. One of my ministers sent me the following poem by May Sarton. Consider it my “glad to be back” greeting to all of you. 


Help us to be the always hopeful 

Gardeners of the spirit 

Who know that without darkness 

Nothing comes to birth 

As without light 

Nothing flowers 


Bill Trampleasure