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Letters to the Editor

Friday July 18, 2003


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Two points in the front page story “Journalist Held in Indonesia” (July 11-14 edition) bear correcting. Paul Kilduff referred to “East Timor’s recent successful battle for independence.” That point of view is a familiar one in our time, when people take armed conflict for granted. However, in the case of East Timor, the people on that remote eastern tip of the Indonesian archipelago did not have to battle for their independence. In 1975, they had been granted independent status by the United Nations, in a decision agreed to by all the member states of the UN.  

Unfortunately, Indonesia moved in and incorporated East Timor as part of Indonesia. That status, another all too familiar instance of Might Makes Right, continued until 1999, when a free and fair election was held and the people of East Timor voted for independence. All that occurred without violence.  

Immediately after the vote, however, the Indonesian military slaughtered and forcibly expelled hundreds of thousands of East Timorese and destroyed virtually every building in the capital city of Dili. So even then there was no battle for independence. The UN successfully administered all aspects of reconstruction in East Timor for more than two years and assisted in setting up trials for the criminal acts of the Indonesian military. 

The second point is that the Free Aceh Movement is GAM, not GAB. 

Rita Maran, Ph.D. 

Lecturer, UC Berkeley 

President, United Nations Association—USA East Bay 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If the recall ballot gives us little choice other than Davis, Simon, Schwarzenegger or Issa, then I’m writing in “NOTA”—None Of The Above. If NOTA wins, then a new election must be held with different candidates. 

Bruce Joffe 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Please fight to save Strawberry Canyon from the planned overuse of this magnificent canyon by the university and LBNL. As longtime residents of Berkeley, we have many times gone for walks in the Berkeley Hills and enjoyed the riparian atmosphere of that whole region. It would be a shame to see it lost. Also, the destruction of habitat for the abundant wildlife in the creek area would be unforgivable.  

Please do whatever you can to save this beautiful resource.  

Stephanie Manning 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

As a family member who has a loved one in a nursing home, I feel the proposed 15 percent Medi-cal cuts will not only hurt nursing homes, but will also affect family stability on a daily basis, families who are already dealing with the emotional aspect of having their loved ones in a home. This cut will not only affect Medi-cal recepients, but also non-Medi-cal patients.  

Please spread the word and contact your district assemblymen. This issue is vital and will be devastating to the most in need in our society.  

You may even suggest to those representatives in Sacramento who support the 15 percent budget cuts to visit a nursing facility for eight hours, to observe the 24-hour staff working to meet the needs of loved ones and then to face the true reality of life on the other side.  


Family Council Chairperson  

Berkeley Pines Care Center  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

My response to the writer who said that the Bolshoi Ballet, the New York City Ballet, and Yo Yo Ma would not have appeared in Bloomington, Ind.: I hate to burst your bubble, but they have indeed appeared in Bloomington. This year’s Bloomington schedule includes the Twyla Tharp Dance troupe and other performances too numerous to mention, including opera and jazz productions at Indiana University’s world-class School of Music.  

I agree, however, with Editor O’Malley’s point—that touring and university productions do not a great cultural center make. 

Carol Polsgrove 

Bloomington, Ind. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The following letter was addressed to Jeff Philliber, environmental planning coordinator, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: 

We are writing to express our strong opposition to the proposed project that will result in the filling of a portion of Cafeteria Creek, a tributary of Strawberry Creek. Filling of creeks to minimize construction costs and building parking lots in creeks are completely unacceptable in the year 2003. The city of Berkeley has a creek protection ordinance that is intended to protect the creeks in the city of Berkeley. Even if not bound legally by the ordinance, we expect that the University of California would want to be a respectful “resident” of the city by complying with the letter and spirit of the creek ordinance. We are dismayed that the university would even conceive of such a project.  

We strongly encourage Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to select an alternative that does not involve the destruction of a hillside and a creek. Other sites/existing buildings within LBNL, on the UC Berkeley campus, or in the city of Berkeley may be more easily used (and will be less environmentally destructive) for the additional office space identified as needed by LBNL. Your proposal does not present any more compelling rationale for the proposed project than cost and convenience. Such arguments are no longer an adequate basis for the destruction of natural habitat areas. The need to dispose of 26,000 cubic yards of hillside in the cheapest, easiest way is no longer adequate rationale for filling wetlands.  

Please rethink your proposal and abandon the preferred alternative. Your proposal is not the least environmentally damaging alternative and flies in the face of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). We hope you will rethink this project and choose an environmentally acceptable alternative.  

Strawberry Creek Affinity Group 

Fran Berges, Jane Eiseley, Nina Falk, Jane Kelly, Tom Kelly, Christopher Kroll, Bob Marsh, Patti Marsh, Fran Rachel, Eric Roberts, Carol Thornton, Christine Walter 


Editors, Daily Planet: 

There are four letters that describe Howard Dean’s conduct during the great moral challenges of our generation: A.W.O.L.  

He was born to privilege and received the fine education and other advantages that family wealth brings. Yet he absented himself from the great struggles for peace and justice that engaged the real leaders of our time. 

Howard Dean was nowhere to be found when others were putting themselves on the line to end the war in Vietnam, dismantle the apparatus of racial bigotry and fight the encroachment of corporate power and corruption. 

Dean has spent his life in a conventional, comfortable niche that required neither courage nor sacrifice. Now he advertises himself as a person of unusual vision and rectitude. The substance of his past and present actions suggests otherwise. 

As Vermont’s governor, he collaborated with Republicans to loosen environmental regulations and tighten social expenditures, turning his back on Greens and progressive Democrats. He pressured state monitoring agencies to rush approval of massive developments. One of his last acts in office was to reduce Vermont’s education budget. 

His fiscal austerity short-changes the public sector. It is a favorite of Wall Street bankers, but a bane to everyone else—workers, consumers, seniors, students, those protected by police, health and fire departments—whose well-being depends upon adequate public spending. He continues to preach this balanced budget dogma in the current recession, when deficit spending by the federal government is needed to lift the economy from its slump. 

He opposes cuts in military expenditures despite posturing as the peace candidate. He does not distinguish funding for counter-terrorism (a relatively inexpensive item) from bloated spending on weapons systems. 

He refuses to take on health insurance companies, even though their greed increases the cost and threatens the quality and integrity of American medical care. In drafting his health care proposal, he rejected the fairness, simplicity and efficiency of  

the Canadian single-payer model. His plan keeps intact the power of private insurers, and requires moderate-income participants to pay high premiums and deductibles. 

He favors erosion of the most important federal benefits for the elderly. He has stated his willingness to limit Medicare spending and raise the age at which workers become entitled to Social Security. 

He supported NAFTA, which undermines labor, safety and environmental standards throughout North America. He currently proposes tepid reforms to somewhat moderate the misery from global corporate dominance. 

He shies away from demanding that America’s wealthiest 1 or 2 percent give up a greater portion of their wealth to properly fund programs and institutions that could make possible a more secure and decent life for us all. 

Howard Dean does not deserve to be hailed as the best hope of American progressives for one simple reason: he is no progressive. He is an astute political operator. But his opportunism should be recognized and treated with appropriate mistrust. 

Randy Silverman