Editorial: Celebrating the Commons on May Day

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday May 01, 2007

Today is May Day, the first of May, the occasion in many cultures for festivities of one kind or another. The ancient Celts took their herds from winter quarters to summer pastures at this time of year, with appropriate excitement. Socialists of all stripes, especially in Europe, have traditionally celebrated May Day as a labor holiday, though it has sometimes been used as an excuse for ugly displays of weapons. The excitement which culminated in the Haymarket riots in America started around this time of year. Young folks, especially in Europe, danced around May poles, with fertility probably lurking in the background motivation in some fashion. Girls have often been crowned Queen of the May, and Catholics around the world sometimes crowned statues of Mary as well. In England and the United States, children and lovers delivered flowers to doorsteps anonymously in May baskets. Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and their friends celebrate the ejection of French invaders from Mexico this week, culminating on Cinco de Mayo, and May 1 has become a day for demonstrations on behalf of all immigrants. -more-

Editorial: We’ll Have to Make Our Own Sunshine

By Becky O’Malley
Friday April 27, 2007

We’d like to thank our good friends at the Bay Guardian (where several of us here cut our journalistic teeth) for their persistent advocacy for sunshine in government. In case their lively publication isn’t on your usual reading list (it should be) here’s what they have to say about what’s going on in Berkeley: -more-

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday May 01, 2007


Commentary: What Are the Prospects for Peace in the Middle East?

By Matthew Taylor
Tuesday May 01, 2007

With President Jimmy Carter coming to town Wednesday to speak to UC Berkeley students about his book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, it’s an appropriate time for us to reflect on the current prospects for justice and peace in the Middle East. -more-

Commentary: U.S. Uses Walls to Divide and Conquer in Iraq

By Kenneth Thiesen
Tuesday May 01, 2007

As we all know, the Bush administration is asking for more time from the American people to “win” in Iraq. First there was the “surge” of at least 30,000 more troops as the solution to defeating insurgents in Iraq. Now along with the surge, the U.S. military has come up with another tactic that will help “win” the war. “Building security walls” is the latest strategy. But what is the United States really constructing in Iraq? -more-

Commentary: Cell Phone Towers Pose Health Risks for Dense Areas

By Joanne Kowalski
Tuesday May 01, 2007

Like others, I, too, was concerned about the health effects of cell phone towers and went to the Internet to do some research. From it, I learned that while the FDA maintains that the link between RF energy emitted by cell phone antennas and health problems like cancer is “inconclusive” or “has not been demonstrated,” they also say “there is no proof that they are absolutely safe.” Even on industry friendly sites, the “prevailing wisdom among researchers” in the field is that it is “too early to draw any strong conclusions.” The research has not been expansive enough, there have been too few properly controlled studies, exposure times have been too short (sometimes as little as one hour) and the technology is too new to really know about possible long term effects. There does, however, seem to be a definite effect at the cellular level (e.g. DNA changes) which may well pose a risk to developing organisms (e.g. children). -more-

Commentary: A Healthy Perspective on Downtown Development

By Sweena Aulakh
Tuesday May 01, 2007

Largely absent from the on-going debate surrounding high density development in downtown Berkeley is a discussion on its health effects. As estimated by the Association of Bay Area Governments there will be an expected 4,200 additional residents in Berkeley by 2015. In determining possible solutions to the increased housing demand, Berkeley's Planning Department and the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) must take into account the growing body of evidence which supports dense development as a means to improve health and well-being. -more-

Commentary: Jewish Peace Activists Must Build Bridges

By Raymond Barglow
Tuesday May 01, 2007

Over the weekend of April 28-29, several hundred activists gathered in Oakland at a national conference sponsored by the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Entitled “Pursuing Justice for Israel/Palestine: Changing Minds, Challenging U.S. Policy,” the conference gave expression to a movement building in the United States that is more critical of Israeli policies than is the conservative “Israel right or wrong” lobby. -more-

Letters to the Editor

Friday April 27, 2007


Commentary: The Peace Symbol’s Golden Year is Here

By Arnie Passman
Friday April 27, 2007

Two thirds into the winter of 1957-58, Gerald Holtom was feeling 66.6 percent-ish as he agonized over the design. That February 21, as the artist was to explain the genesis of his idea in greater, more personal depth later to Peace News editor Hugh Brock, he was “in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself the representation of an individual in despair with arms outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalized the drawing with a line and put a circle around it.” -more-

Commentary: Time to Re-Name the University

By Dale Becknell
Friday April 27, 2007

In the spirit of cities rolling out the welcome mat for private stadiums, a la Pac Bell Park and McAfee Coliseum, sometimes at the expense of funding such secondary needs as schools, let’s have a contest for renaming the UC Berkeley. British Petroleum has made a strong bid for renaming the school the University of British Petroleum. But that’s a little over the top—maybe we should just put department names up for sale, and at least keep the UCB acronym for the present. -more-

Commentary: A Warm Water Pool Needs Land and Money

by Terry Doran
Friday April 27, 2007

A warm water pool in Berkeley is a truly desirable and important amenity to Berkeley residents, and a boon to the greater East Bay. The article in the Daily Planet on Tuesday, April 10, “Voices of the Berkeley Warm Pool,” is a remarkable tribute and reminder about the benefits of a warm water therapeutic pool for everyone in our community. However, the reality is that the existing pool is very old, deteriorating at a rapid clip, and may soon be unusable. And then where will we all be? -more-

Commentary: AIPAC’s Legion of Supporters

By John Gertz
Friday April 27, 2007

Becky O’Malley begins her latest foray into the Middle East with noble sentiments. She endorses Pelosi’s and Lantos’ recent peace mission to Syria, and condemns the Bush administration for obstructing it. Then, as usual, our local editor severely strays. She starts by calling Israeli Prime Minister “clueless” for denying that Pelosi was bringing a peace message from him to Syrian President Assad, when everyone knows that Olmert is quite anxious to make peace with Syria, has said so often, and yes, of course Pelosi was bearing a message of peace to the Syrians from Olmert. No one has ever seriously called Olmert “clueless.” What a clueless insult. O’Malley, herself, concedes that, in order to send a peace message to Syria through Pelosi, Olmert had to disregard an explicit order from Bush not to do so. Olmert was in a tough position, since defying a bully like Bush cannot be a good thing for little Israel. Then O’Malley incoherently tries to tie AIPAC into this, as though somehow AIPAC is standing in the way of peace with Syria, citing Soros’ recent criticism of that organization. O’Malley quotes Soros as saying that he is “not sufficiently engaged in Jewish affairs,” and yet O’Malley nevertheless touts Soros as “a strong supporter of Israel.” Soros is right and O’Malley wrong. Soros has never been identified with Jewish causes or with Israel. He does not have much of a history of either support or detraction. His main focus of activity has been Eastern Europe. As for AIPAC, it did not in this case, and never would lift a finger to obstruct an Israeli peace initiative, but, more typically, in a case like this its role would be to help smooth over any bad feelings created between Olmert and Bush on his matter. O’Malley offers not a shred of evidence that AIPAC played or plays any obstructive role in the peace process, or in any way works against the interests of either the United States or Israel. Because AIPAC serves America’s interests as well as Israel’s, it is so highly regarded by politicians across the political spectrum, from Tom Bates to Tom Delay, and almost every politician in between, including Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Lee and Tom Lantos. -more-