Letters to the Editor

Tuesday June 08, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I cannot help but wonder if the media has forgotten President Reagan’s leadership in funding and arming Afghanistan’s “freedom fighter” revolution in the 1980s.  

That immoral gun-running is of course what allowed the Taliban to take control of Afghanistan, oppress Afghani women, and shelter Bin Laden’s terror-training camps. George W. Bush’s $30 million in direct aid to the Taliban in 2001 was merely a token of our support. The World Trade Center destruction and the “war on terrorism” will always be remembered in my heart as the Gipper’s real legacy.  

Lee Wallace 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The schools, the infrastructure, the social programs are all, most agree, in a severe budget crisis. Few seem to be demanding the obvious solution, the 800-pound day-glo gorilla standing in the middle of the meeting room: Cancel the war! Fund the schools! Fund everything that we, the people, know will benefit ourselves and our country! I do not understand why all public officials and all individuals of good will and common or uncommon sense are not out in the streets screaming that the federal government bring home the surviving troops, stop the theft of our money by corporations and mercenaries, and educate the children, treat the sick, fix the roads, and do the rest of what all sensible people know is necessary. 

Let’s not forget clean air, clean water, and protection for other species as well as our own. 

Ruth Bird 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I must wholeheartedly disagree with letter writer Sandy Rothman, (Letters, Daily Planet, June 4-7) who takes the Police Blotter columnist Richard Brenneman to task for the creativity he employs in his writing. His style is indeed humorous, but not tactlessly so, and I have not seen the “mean-spiritedness” she claims to be so offended by. Instead, Brenneman manages to impart most of the pertinent details of several incidents that are reported on nowhere else in a manner that is lively, interesting, and contains the occasional wink. To me this is a tremendously welcome change from the stupefyingly repetitive contents of the other local alternative papers. Thanks Richard! 

Douglas Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We need gadflys. They have different points of view, different concepts, and inventive ideas that no one else has considered. 

The gadflys are a bother, ask off beat questions, and are often persistent.  

Ralph Nader is a gadfly. He observed court sessions at age 4. 

He reads and speaks four other languages: Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and Portuguese. 

He started and has spun off many good projects . 

He is responsible for many good books including Unsafe at an Speed and Civics for Democracy by Katherine Isaacs. 

If he gets in the presidential debate he will ask the questions which the Democrats and Republicans have already agreed not to discuss in violation of the law setting up the debates. 

Let’s give him a chance and see what happens! 

Charles L. Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

According to Malcolm Carden (Letters, Daily Planet, June 4-7), “Folks from the suburbs do not flock into Union Square to shop, except perhaps once a year at Christmas,” and out-of-town shoppers tend to avoid BART. I often take BART to the city on weekends, where I see numerous people (including children) boarding at the Powell Street station, carrying a variety of bulging name-brand shopping bags back to the East Bay. So it’s clear to me that many people will shop by transit when it’s a relatively convenient and cost-effective option. And as we round the top of the bell curve of petroleum extraction while global demand continues to increase rapidly, the “fact of life that retail activity and cars go hand in hand in this country” may soon turn out not to be hardwired into our genes after all. It would be prudent to plan ahead for this epiphany. 

Ken Cheetham 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Bus fare hikes are again being considered by AC Transit, not yet six months following the December 2003 fare hike for seniors and disabled persons.  

Despite drastic cuts in services, according to items 9 and 10 on an agenda for last AC Transit board meeting (May 19) those who can least afford a fair increase (disabled people, seniors, and students) may be asked to pay more to ride AC Transit next September 2004.  

AC Transit holds its board meetings first and third Wednesdays at 2 p.m.  

Although AC Transit does have a limited if ineffective forum for riders to protest its policies, meetings are always held in small rooms that soon fill, usually at 2 p.m., when working people are least likely to be able to attend. President Wallace, a kindly soft-spoken man, is obviously preempted in meetings by the AC Transit attorney. 

Now is the time to protest fare hikes. Let us not allow a second fare increase in less than a year! AC Transit Riders unite!  

Arlene Merryman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It came as a great surprise to learn that once again there is a campaign to curtail or eliminate use of Ohlone Dog Park. Although I no longer have a dog, there was a time when this Berkeley institution was important in my life and I know it is to many Berkeley residents today. I don’t think that current and future dog owners are deprived of the assistance and pleasure I experienced as a frequent visitor to the dog park. Once again, those who would deprive other Berkeley residents of this important resource are neighbors of the park who moved in long after it was well established, well aware of its place in the neighborhood. Many of us live in neighborhoods impacted by activities of outsiders, whether all-day parking because of being near BART or the University Avenue transit corridor or short-term parking for schools, shopping areas or other parks. Should we take down the basketball courts a couple of blocks down Hearst because too many rowdy young boys go there, parking their cars in the neighborhood and making a lot of noise? 

The long-established rules governing the park are reasonable and if they are not being followed the solution is to enforce them, correcting those who break the rules, not punishing everybody. My experience was that most park users helped enforce the rules, reminding others to pick up after their dogs, advising new owners of methods of control, and, certainly, objecting if anyone was irresponsible enough to leave dogs unattended. It was to our own interest to help other users so we all had a positive experience. 

Moving the dog park out of the neighborhood is no solution. Many users can’t drive to the Marina. Shortening the hours would discriminate against those who work and must bring their dogs to the park either before they go to work or after they return home. If neighbors are concerned about there being too many dogs at one time (which is questionable) and too many non-resident cars parked in their neighborhood (which happens to all of us), the obvious solution is to establish more dog parks throughout the city. Don’t Willard Park, San Pablo Park and possibly other areas associated with the BART line have available space? Not a lot is needed; a small space can be advantageous in maintaining supervision of one’s dog. If users had dog parks closer to their homes they would be able to walk and that would alleviate any problem with parking. 

I recall that not long ago, Doris Roberts, one of the earliest proponents of the dog park, was honored by City Council for having the foresight and interest to help establish this very important element of Berkeley life. They recognized it as worthy then, I hope they continue to acknowledge its importance. 

Honor Thompson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have lived in Berkeley since I was born 78 years ago, and as yet to see anyone in city government use any common sense about anything; including dealing with the university. No one seems to care about what the tax burden has become to the city’s homeowners. 

One example: A solution to make the university pay its fair share of Berkeley’s sewer fees. The regents have long ago stipulated that the dormitories must be self-supporting. Part of that self-support should be paying their share of the sewer fee. 

The Berkeley homeowners pay a sewer fee based on each toilet they have in their homes. It seems to me that the City Council has only to count the numbers of toilets in each dorm and throughout the university campus and charge the university the same fees that each homeowner is charged. Serve notice to the university officials that they pay the same sewer fee that the homeowner pays. 

If they refuse, then it is time to play hard ball with the university. Simply put, send a crew up to the dorms and locate each sewer outlet coming into the main line. Then proceed to close it off. Dig a hole at that point and install a gate valve. If they still refuse to pay their fair share of the sewer fee—then close the valve. 

Before we concern ourselves with more property tax increases, perhaps the City Council needs to consider this one approach to this one problem first. 

If the City Council hasn’t got the common sense to pursue this and other simple fee approaches, perhaps it is time for the homeowners to consider a new City Council in the next election.  

Andrew Laird 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Inside, everyone knows that reality TV is about a different reality than what is on the screen. Knows that, like the marathon in the 1970s era film about the misery of the Great Depression (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?) reality programming works the heartstrings of despair of Americans, creating hope, vicariously, for those who are struggling in their own lives. The sad part is not just the marketing of a Cindarella-like atmosphere but the backdrop fraud behind the mythical paradise—the “other” America that viewers aspire to—there being no such America. Reality TV perfects the myth in which the United States is a paradise, not the marauding superpower, the colonizing imperialist, the greatest purveyor of scientific violence and terror in all history, and the debaucher of its own citizenry. While in the world we live in, the one smoothed out of the picture by Reality TV, a president publicly declares that the United States is at war with much of the world and launches wars that will “never end,” our TV lot is to cheer the young “martyrs” whose coffins we are not supposed to see. Over in that other world, Wall Street uses “America” to steal the world’s food and their resources, to kill their poor and dictate to their governments. Of course, declaring war on the world is not a new idea, invented in the USA. That most of us can’t resist the hell that it portends for us reflects, however, the success of reality TV. 

Marc Sapir 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Congratulations to KPFA for airing the New York City portion of the Kean Commission 9/11 hearings. No other media organization would touch it, not even CSPAN. 

One issue that has me seriously concerned, if we are to believe Larry Bensky’s unflinching support of the Bush administration’s account of what happened on that day, is the strength of our steel frame buildings. 

On 9/11, two 60-ton jets slammed into the towers near their points of greatest leverage and thinnest steel, yet despite no visible movement of the buildings less than an hour later, the south tower (WTC2—the second building to be hit) collapses, according to the Kean Commission, in 10 seconds. The upper floors, which were on fire and which were lighter and, according to the Bensky/Bushco model, lost all their strength from the fires, traveled through the lower floors, which were constructed of thicker steel and had no fires in seconds. WTC2 was 1,362 feet tall. Freefall in a vacuum from a height of 1,362 feet is 9.2 seconds. This means that the steel structure of the twin towers offered little more resistance than the air surrounding the buildings in it’s vertical direction. 

One can only conclude from the Bensky/Bushco New Physics Order, that steel frame buildings have incredible horizontal strength and almost no vertical strength. I submit that we immediately stop all construction of steel frame buildings as they are prone to instantaneous collapse from the forces of gravity. 

David Heller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We are in an election year and the country is more politically polarized then any time since the Civil War. Any subject which can be politicized is exaggerated and intensified so it may be exploited before it’s news cycle runs out or a new issue pushes it off the front pages. We must all keep this in mind when we read or hear the news. 

The “torture” photos could just as easily be part of a Mapplethorpe exhibit funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. There are those in the Castro who pay good money to have this done to them. No one was beheaded! 

I believe that all truths and information including photos on controversial subjects should be universally available. But different groups want the light to only shine in certain places. I believe that photos of a partial birth abortion and the moving images of a baby laughing and sucking it’s thumb inside a mothers womb should be shown to those who are about to end that life. But, of course, those gruesome images might have an impact contrary to one group’s agenda. We all need to think for ourselves; no group or side of an issue is completely right or wrong. 

The price of gasoline is high and may go higher. John Kerry is directing the blame to Bush. Logically, this should help Bush with liberals, especially here in Berkeley. High gas prices should be a benefit to health as people walk more and drive those polluting vehicles less. The higher the price of gas, the more competitive and attractive alternative forms of energy become. Congestion on the roads may lessen as people use public transportation. These are all things which the Berkeley liberals should rejoice at, yet, the price of gas will be used as an issue to attack Bush with. The nation has taken on a cult like fanaticism after it has chosen sides. The only hope is for people to analyze an “issue” and not just listen to the spin from their chosen sides. 

Michael Larrick