Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday July 10, 2007

AUG. 6 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Sixty-one years ago, on August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atom bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. On Aug. 6, 2007 people from around the globe will mark that date to remember that dark day and to remind us all of the continuing efforts of governments to design and develop nuclear weapons in the service of endless war. Presently, Livermore Lab has designed the first new nuke in a Bush administration initiative to re-design and rebuild every nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal, under the so-called “Reliable Replacement Warhead” program. By taking action this Aug. 6 we will honor the civilian population of Japan whose lives were destroyed in the most abominable way, and will say “Never Again.”  

We will stand in solidarity with all victims of war. We will rededicate our lives to peace and work to prevent our government from developing new nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. 

Please gather with me at Vasco Road and Patterson Pass Road at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 6 and march to the gates of the lab at 9 a.m. Or contact Tri-Valley CAREs at (925) 443-7148 or for more information. 

Loulena Miles 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Once again, Mary Oram makes the transparently false claim that Bus Rapid Transit will slow emergency vehicles: “[W]hat will happen when they come up behind a BRT bus? The express lanes will be separated from the regular traffic lanes by a curb. Unless they jump the curb, there will be no way to get around the BRT bus when it stops to pick up or discharge passengers.” In reality, there will be two express bus lanes next to each other. If a bus is stopped in one of those lanes, the emergency vehicle can simply pull into the other one to pass the stopped bus. We have all seen emergency vehicles stuck in traffic on Telegraph Avenue, and that will not happen when there are reserved lanes for buses and emergency vehicles. 

Oram also claims that it will be dangerous to cross “with two high-speed lanes in the middle.” But there will not be a continuous stream of traffic in these bus lanes. There will be plenty of gaps when it is perfectly safe to cross. With slower traffic in the two car lanes and relatively little traffic in the two bus lanes, it will obviously be safer to cross than it is now, with four lanes of aggressive traffic. 

And Oram claims that BRT will remove parking that businesses rely on for their customers. She apparently doesn’t know that AC Transit will mitigate loss of parking. As I remember, in locations where more than 85 percent of parking is occupied, they will provide two replacement spaces for each space they remove. Where parking is now tight, it will be easier. 

Charles Siegel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding the proposed Trader Joe’s project at MLK and University: Would city officials be so willing to embrace the project if it was for a Safeway rather than a Trader Joe’s? Would they be so willing to ignore the obvious traffic congestion/chaos and parking nightmare that such a project would generate? Would they be so willing to ignore the significant detriment that it would cause to the surrounding neighborhood? 

Before it’s too late, city officials need to wake up to the fact that the Trader Joe’s project is a bad idea.  

Debbie Dritz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I noticed that neighbors of the proposed development at the Kragen Auto site on University Avenue have called on Mayor Bates to honor his 2003 pledge to follow the principles of the University Avenue Plan, which was developed with the input of many diverse stakeholders to prevent the negative impacts of overdevelopment along that street. This poses an interesting question: What pledges has Mayor Bates kept to protect neighborhood quality of life in Berkeley? Lord knows, he certainly made enough of them during his two campaigns and his series of neighborhood meetings. Heck, we should make it a contest. Okay, I will give a prize to anybody who comes up with any pledge that Tom has kept to protect the quality of life in our residential areas. There is only one rule to this contest: both you and the Mayor must agree that the pledge was kept. Let the competition begin! Your reward? A can of Pledge, of course. Which will probably come in handy—the winning entry may have quite a bit of dust on it. 

Doug Buckwald 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thanks from all of us concerned with our land and water to Richard Brenneman for his astounding reporting of the thousands of truckloads of toxic soil in Richmond and for Sherry Padgett and Loni Hancock for their dedication and action.  

This terrible issue would never have gotten these results without the digging and commitment of your talented reporter who knows how to make words work, We are grateful for the follow-up of those who know how to make change happen. Just in time to stop the dangers from affecting all of us.  

The time has come for UC to consider how they can make a difference. How can they work with and join the community and stop the divisiveness. Make the world “better” in Berkeley and on the Bay. Its time for action that makes us all safer, healthier, more productive and changes things for the better for generations to come. The time is now. Write on, Richard.  

Stevanne Auerbach 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Don’t be fooled by the recent UC offer to downsize the garage under the Maxwell Field (Daily Planet, July 3). The offer came on the heels of Chancellor Birgeneau’s annual meeting with the Staff Assembly Committee at which, in his opening remarks, he mused about why the city would waste all that money (on a lawsuit) because, as he stated in typical UC arrogance, “the sports facility is only delayed. It will be built.” Ignoring the issues, Birgeneau dismissed critics by claiming there is only one reason for the project; “to get our athletes out of an unsafe structure.” 

Appealing to our sympathies, he used “safety” to obfuscate the real issues; traffic, night-light pollution, the views from Strawberry Canyon, the reduced landscape, the trees. Besides, I work in another of UC’s “unsafe structures,” the Edwards Track, built of concrete pillars that may fall in the next quake, but I guess a bunch of gardeners are a lower priority than a bunch of marketable footballers. 

Hank Chapot 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m not sure how far I would trust Peter Fowler’s conclusion that nuclear energy is “...the only way to produce necessary levels of energy in an emission-free manner...,” when he precedes that conclusion with the comment, “...burning biofuels does little to curb global CO2 emissions because it is, like gasoline, a hydrocarbon.” (Letters, July 3.) 

While the whole biofuels issue does require much study and analysis before we leap to them as a solution to our transportation fuel problems, their CO2 “emissions,” that is, the impact on global warming due simply to burning the fuel, would be very beneficial because the carbon in biofuels is taken from CO2 in the atmosphere by the plants going into the biofuel. That is, considered in isolation, the burning of biofuels is a closed cycle in which there is no net addition of carbon to the atmosphere. 

In contrast, burning hydrocarbons extracted from deep in the earth removes carbon from it’s condition of sequestration in the petroleum (where it has been for millions of years and where most of it would stay if we didn’t extract it), and turns it into CO2, thus adding to greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. 

Determination of the relative atmospheric CO2 contribution of biofuels and fossil fuels requires careful analysis of the complete production cycle of both types of fuels, not simply an observation that carbon is present in both fuels. Thus, the fuels and fertilizers used to produce the biofuels (which the new industry-funded research institute at UC will be attempting to minimize or avoid altogether) have to be included in the balance.  

This observation does not imply my support for the industry-funded institute at UC. In earlier periods in our history we would have taxed the companies making such gargantuan profits and applied that tax money to both heavily subsidized higher education (I think I paid about $63 per semester when I started in engineering at UC Berkeley) AND to setting up such research institutes completely independent of industry influence and control—a far superior system in my opinion to the one we have allowed to evolve from “tax revolts” that leave the money and influence in the hands of the corporations and graduates saddled with enormous debts. 

Regarding nuclear energy being the only solution: Is Peter proposing a solution for the United States alone (and a few select allies) or for the entire world’s energy problems? Note that our current “leaders” are (possibly pretending to be) freaking out over Iran (and N. Korea) attempting to develop nuclear energy to the extent of sending three carrier battle groups into the very confined waters just off Iran’s waters and issuing multiple veiled and not so veiled threats of the use of nuclear weapons if Iran doesn’t stop its development efforts. I invite Peter to flesh out his proposal that the United States should rely heavily on nuclear energy and explain to us how we could go that route while threatening other states who we don’t like at that moment in history with annihilation if they attempt to do the same thing. 

Armin Wright 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

As the Senate prepares this week to debate the Iraq war during hearings on the military authorization bill, it is appropriate to remind ourselves of the heavy toll our Iraq invasion and occupation has exacted on the nation’s psyche. The following statistics tell a sobering story. As of July 8, the Iraq war has exacted 3,605 U.S. military deaths, and through July 4, 26,558 wounded. A 2006 study, “The Human Cost of the War,” published in the British medical journal The Lancet estimates that since the U.S. invasion in March 2003 through July 2006, there have been 654,964 “excess deaths” of Iraqis due to the war, or put another way, 2.5 percent of Iraq’s population have died above what would have occurred without conflict. In addition, it is estimated that 2 million Iraqis have been displaced inside the country and another 2.2 million have sought shelter in neighboring countries. Finally, the Iraq war costs to date exceed $441.3 billion. Here’s what we have achieved in Iraq: a civil war; a fertile ground for future terrorists; and the world’s condemnation. Isn’t it time to end the Iraq misadventure and support our troops by bringing them home now? 

Ralph E. Stone 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Before Robert Clear issues ad hominem attacks on others for alleged dishonesty and stat juggling, he should take a look in the mirror. 

In a nation of an estimated 100 million gun owners out of over 300 million people the estimated deterrence of several million individuals from criminal acts is an entirely reasonable assumption. He knows full well that a great many people who deter crime do not report it to the police because there has been no crime precisely because of deterrence. 

Clear knows that the 500,000 figure he cites are only the reported incidents, again precisely my point. Eight hundred accidental deaths from guns in a country of over 300 million is a totally insignificant figure, much less than drownings, food poisoning, industrial accidents, automobile mishaps and suicides. His citation of a “study” of four mishaps per one successful self-defense attempt is inherently unbelievable on its face.  

States where citizens are allowed to carry arms have shown a decrease in crime. A criminal is much more likely to attack someone he believes is disarmed. As for youth gangs, sale of weapons has always been illegal and Clear knows this. Somehow it never deters these punks. 

Clear has the statist assumption that people are unfit to own weapons and the state is the solution to all problems. This is the essence of modern collectivist liberalism in all its intellectual bankruptcy. 

Michael P. Hardesty 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Jim Harris, in criticizing me, makes a reasonable point. He indicates that I should not speak for Worthington in saying that he now regrets his support for the Rachel Corrie resolution. Indeed, if I misspoke, Worthington can use this space to correct me. Harris also believes that I should not single out Linda Maio. There is some unfairness in condemning Maio, and not Dona Spring. But Spring will probably never face the voters again, and certainly does not seek the mayor’s office. That’s why I focus on Maio, the only other current member of the City Council besides Worthington and Spring who voted for Corrie. But Harris is also being unfair when he fails to identify himself as ISM’s local representative. It was his organization which sent Corrie to guard the Hamas smuggling tunnels. Further, the one time I met with Harris he expressed his desire for the destruction of Israel and its replacement by an Arab state.  

Tracie De Angelis Salim sympathizes with Gazans on several grounds. Yes, the area is overpopulated. But Gazans have the highest, or almost the highest, birthrate in the world. Why is that Israel’s fault? Second grounds: Gazans have no ready access to other countries. They actually have three borders, one with Israel, one with Egypt, and one to the open sea. Israel rightly restricts entry and exit through its border. Gaza, as ruled by Hamas, is in a declared state of war with Israel. Hardly a day goes by without Gazans rocketing Israeli towns and villages. The amazing thing is that Israel still allows food, medicine, electricity, and water through to a state with which it is at war. Israel even treats wounded Gazan gunmen in its state of the art hospitals. Go figure. 

De Angelis Salim feels that I am condescending when I state that the women of Gaza will now be required to take up the veil. I love freedom. My concern for Gazan women is not that they wear a veil, but that will be forced to wear a veil. Palestine is a largely secular society. But the choice to be secular will now be taken from Gazan women. It may be that one cleric or another condemns female genital mutilation, but that has no more effect upon Hamas than, say, the sermons of some Unitarian minister would have on Pat Robertson. The Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot, has supported female genital mutilation. 

John Gertz 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

The national election is more than 15 months away, but already the political scene is getting heated, or, actually, quite nasty! For one thing, it’s become evident that we won’t be voting for candidates on the strength of their platforms—what they stand for—but rather how many millions of campaign funds they’ve raked in. 

Ah, but then there’s the big issue—John Edwards’ haircut. Believe me, this is high drama, folks! Now we all recognize that Mr. Edwards has a splendid head of hair: thick, luxuriant brown with not a trace of grey. (Hmm—I wonder.) Oh, yes, millions of American men would kill for that hair. But, the startling revelation that those haircuts cost $500 raised quite a few eyebrows. Then came the really damaging news that the haircuts actually came to about $1,250, given that the stylist charged for air travel and hotel costs. It seems that Joseph Torrenueva, the stylist, is quite a sensitive chap. He took sharp exception to Edwards’ casual referral to him as “that guy.” Says Mr. Torrenueva, “When he called me ‘that guy’, that hit my ears. It hurt.” One has to sympathize with the man. 

Now, if all of this hasn’t been bad enough, what about the Republican YouTube video in which Mr. Edwards is shown combing and patting his hair while the song “I Feel Pretty” from “West Side Story” is played in the background? 

Oh, John, John—in light of the fact that poverty is your signature issue in this election, couldn’t you have settled for Super Cuts? 

Dorothy Snodgrass