Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday January 07, 2010 - 08:36:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

If the goal is to narrow the achievement gap, then cutting down on science labs is definitely the way to go—bring those elitist overachievers down to the common level. 

Dick Bagwell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There have recently been numerous articles about the possible closing of the science labs at Berkeley High School. According to the description of this ridiculous act, in the Dec. 23 Berkeley Daily Planet, there is a “...plan to eliminate science labs at Berkeley High in order to free up funds that will go to ‘equity grants’ intended to close the school’s achievement gap between higher and lower achieving students.” I had to read that sentence three times before I was able to believe my eyes. Aha! Then I realized what this proposal actually means! By closing the science labs, there will be no access to higher learning for the higher achieving students; therefore, their test scores will be lowered and the gap between the higher and lower achieving students will become much smaller! 

Barbara Segal 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

At the upcoming City Council meeting of Jan. 19, there will be a concerted effort to revoke Berkeley Iceland's historic landmark status. Apparently the council thinks that condos or some other development should trump revitalizing and updating a valuable community treasure.  

It’s ironic that the City Council is willing to turn their back on this beloved recreational institution especially since Berkeley Iceland was originally envisioned and developed during the 1930’s depression. Back then as now, a devoted group of local citizens realized it was important to provide a healthy recreational outlet to the community particularly during tough financial times and made it happen. 

Politicians like to talk about the importance of the next generation: our children, and providing them with healthy and wholesome outlets for their abundant energies, especially in the sedentary internet age. We already have a great recreational structure with an impressive history and a group of citizens devoted to updating it for the 21st century complete with energy innovations such as solar power. 

It’s far more environmentally smart to save and update well-designed and solid structures than to reduce it to rubble to makeway for some trendy development, particularly when the real estate market and world economy is so vulnerable.  

I’ve been to Save Berkeley Iceland meetings. This is a savvy, practical, and passionate group who will make Berkeley Iceland’s renaissance happen. It would be a waste to let the local politicians stop the creativity, momentum, and possibilities to occur because Berkeley Iceland’s owners are impatient to sell their property. If members of the City Council took more effort to review  Save Berkeley Iceland's progress, including their professionally produced and enterprising business plans and fundraising, the city would do more to boost them instead of threatening to revoke its landmark status.  

Berkeley citizens: show your outrage at council’s cavalier attitude towards this essential Berkeley recreational treasure. Appear en masse at the Jan. 19 City Council meeting. Phone councilmembers and express how you don’t appreciate their attempt to quickly and without much publicity or forewarning jeopardize Iceland’s future. 

What we need is healthy recreation, not another condo.  

If Oakland can revitalize their great Fox Oakland Theater, and Richmond restore and update their beloved Plunge—the historic swimming pool—then why can’t Berkeley wholeheartedly support Iceland’s rebirth? 

Visit for more information. 

Richard Fabry 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

It occurred to me while I was attending the Telegraph Fair that if the Bus Rapid Transit plan goes through in spite of the objections, there will be no room for the fair. Do we want to give up such a tradition for a project of questionable value? 

Mary Kazmer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Merrilie Mitchell in the Dec.17 Daily Planet brought up a great idea that I have been supporting for several years. AC Transit could change their bus routes like No. 18 that runs up and down Shattuck Avenue, mostly empty, to a Shattuck Loop where people could jump on and off for several hours after paying a $1 fare. This would improve access to downtown theaters, cinemas and restaurants without the “pain” of driving around for 10 minutes looking for an empty parking spot. 

This would also help BART riders who need transportation to and from the Ashby and downtown Berkeley stations. Go Merrilie! 

This would be good for the environment, the local economy and ACTransit income. 

PW Haggarty 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am disturbed by the Berkeley City Council’s fast-tracking plans for ferry service between the marina and San Francisco. At first glance, ferry service seems attractive but deeper reflection on the social and environmental costs should steer us away from this project. 

The $170 million price tag for establishing a ferry terminal represents a subsidy to private economic interests. Over time this ferry service will likely become a profitable venture but it can never pay for itself. The public subsidy is one strong argument against a project that is more amenity than necessity. 

But my greatest concern of the ferry proposal is environmental. Californians have industrialized and sterilized the shoreline of the bay. Wild spaces and protected habitats are possible in places like Berkeley if we begin treating the bay as a natural resource and not industrial raw material. Too much of the bay shoreline is blighted with broken concrete and debris. Ferry service and increased traffic congestion are incompatible to recreation and restoration objectives that deserve top priority. 

Another concern for the ferry service is why it’s even necessary? Who really stands to benefit from this project? Is it a few business types who want a quick commute between the Financial District and North Berkeley homes? Most Berkeley residents will only experience negative impacts such as traffic congestion at the University Avenue freeway exit or accessing Caesar Chavez park. 

In the shadow of the failed Copenhagen climate summit, Berkeleyites should question why our City Council pushes more petroleum driven transportation systems. Our community would be better served by improving bicycle safety corridors and lowering BART fares to discourage car commutes. A ferry system wastes resources and degrades a hidden jewel of recreational and environmental minded Berkeleyites. This proposal should be rejected before further resources are squandered. 

David Daniels 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

With all due respect to Riya Bhattacharjee, the article regarding Rash Ghosh’s conflict with the city (“Berkeley Man Battles City Over Building Codes,” Daily Planet, Dec. 23) is a slap in the face to us residents, building contractors, and architects who put up with and abide by codes and rules as requested by the Berkeley Building Department. Eighteen years is a long time to end up with a sad group of structures at the corner of McGee Ave and Dwight Way. 

Anyone is welcome here but there are rules for obvious reasons of health, safety, and welfare coupled with some degree pleasant design elements. The aforementioned is weak at best on all points. 

This article is a good exposé of a bad building department bureaucracy coupled with an inept landlord regardless of his education and philanthropical work. 

David Wills 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

  A resident applies for and gets a building permit. He proceeds with construction. The city later states the permit was “issued erroneously” by a “line-level” employee. He gets his property liened and boarded up and maybe confiscated. (“Berkeley Man Battles City Over Building Codes, Daily Planet, Dec. 23) 

  A developer and client lie to the city and Planning Department, get a building permit “issued in error” and start construction of a laundromat. They get $16,000—with a promise of another $40,000—for the delay somehow caused by the city. (City Council report, Daily Planet, Dec. 10) 

  Whose town is this? 

Peter Shelton 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The back-door ousting of 21-year long-time Freight and Salvage board member Harry Yaglijian stands as one of the low points of non-profit politics. 

Here is a man who has contributed consistently to the mission of the Freight by bringing in key people, facilitating connections throughout the community, and supporting the move to the wonderful new, four-hundred plus seat auditorium on Addison street. 

The question I would put to the Freight board of directors is: Why was Harry Yaglijian voted off the board with literally no explanation? At the very least, he should have been informed and given the right to challenge the position of the directors who dismissed him from his long-standing membership. 

As a fellow musician and performing artist, I suggest that, rather than let sleeping dogs lie, the board consider opening up to a wider discussion the reasons for this essentially blind-sided dismissal of a veteran friend of many in the community, and a truly dedicated contributor to the modus operandi of The Freight in countless ways. 

Folks like Harry don’t come around often. He deserves the respect of a public discussion rather than being dismissed behind the proverbial closed door. 

Marc Winokur 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In a recent letter to the editor, in which some leaders of Jewish organizations ask for “responsible journalism,” that is, journalism that doesn’t publish things they don’t like, they mention Daily Planet Executive Editor Becky O’Malley’s commitment to free press absolutism. This commitment perhaps explains why the Planet letters section is the most interesting section of the paper and one of the best of all similar publications I know. 

But, just below, the askers for “responsible journalism” mention that O’Malley has said that she would never publish junk science that might harm the public good. The problem with her position, though, is that there is no such thing as limited free speech. Either it is free, even for people who strongly believe in junk science like global warming and Darwinian evolution or far-fetched conspiracy theories like G.W. Bush’s explanation of the 9/11 events and his reasons for getting us into these wars, or it is not. You cannot have it both ways. 

I personally think that people who oppose free speech absolutism have something dark to hide. Actually, trying to censor other people’s views on any subject might be counterproductive for the censors, because their efforts to hide something most likely will act as an incentive for the censored to research about it. This is exactly what happens in totalitarian countries where censorship, under the name of “responsible journalism,” is the law of the land. 

The askers for “responsible journalism” also wrote that the BDP has never published any hate speech directed at other minorities. If that is true, I volunteer to help correct this bias. Next week I will send you a letter strongly criticizing—out of love, not hate—a neglected minority: the hypocritical “progressive” liberal millionaires living in the Berkeley hills. 

Pancho Perico  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m one of the 30 million people. I am an unemployed artist, unable to get a job after graduating with a Master’s degree in art. Sixty-two years old and in good health (knock wood), I manage my own health through supplements and alternative health care. I’ve been cynical about our country’s healthcare system for over 30 years, having been ripped off by high premiums, lack of coverage for preventative medicine, and coverage dropped as soon as I used it one too many times to buy into the system yet again. I won’t do it, and I am hoping that the American people will finally say “Take Your Rip-Off Insurance and Shove It.” 

Jennifer Booth 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am very alarmed that this President and administration and all of the Congress members are a total sham for our government and only proving to be the tools of the insurance companies with this kind health reform bill that will increase our deficit—including the billions going to the sham of the war in Afghanistan—and force millions to buy into a health system that will be more complex and costly. 

Shang-Mei Lee 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Back to the drawing board. The current bills are not reform. 

No public option, just profits to the insurance industry and millions of americans still not covered. I will not vote for any congressperson who votes for this bill with no robust public option. And women’s right to choice and abortion must be included in any bill. If one must buy insurance, the choice should include the ability to cover possible abortion. 

Carolyn Cobb 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The National Board of the 17,000 member Physicians for a National Health Program wrote to US Senators Tuesday, urging that the Health Reform Bill before them be voted down. Their research analysis explaining how and why PNHP came to this conclusion may be found at . There are some striking new findings from the bill that show that the reform will worsen the current serious situation in health care. For example, even those people who will be required to buy new coverage will find that they have to pay 40 percent of their own health bills, while care costs are expected to skyrocket under the reform at an even faster pace than the current 9-12 percent inflation in health care costs per year. 

Marc Sapir 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I viewed your display of schematic designs for the new North Berkeley store at the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay on Dec. 7, 2009.  

I was sorely disappointed.  

My wife and I have lived in this neighborhood for 21 years. We moved here from our previous home in the Berkeley hills because we wanted to be able to walk to shops, restaurants, public transit, parks and cultural facilities—and because we enjoy the street life.  

Your earlier version was much more neighborhood friendly than the one on display. The earlier version, which included a row of shops facing Shattuck Ave. and reduced on-grade parking, was handsome and neighborhood/pedestrian friendly—it would have been a major addition to the appearance and functionality of our small shopping district.  

The current version also ignored the plea of many in the city and neighborhood for a mixed use project that would provide some much needed housing—housing that would enable even more people to enjoy the shopping and street experience of North Berkeley.  

Berkeley has a large and growing street culture—many people, like my wife and I, walk to our shopping area and delight in the active pedestrian ambience. The planned store totally ignores this quality and is a step backwards in urban design. The current store is 1960’s suburban design—a plain-jane storefront facing a sea of cars in an open parking lot. The proposed improvement is a just a larger plain-jane store facing a sea of cars in an open parking lot!  

The response of your staff to these concerns was, “we can no longer afford the more ambitious project previously contemplated,” and, “we don’t do mixed use.” These are lame excuses for lack of imagination and forward thinking. The new store will be a neighborhood fixture for 40-50 years—it should be something that you and the community can be proud of. Safeway is a multi-billion dollar corporation, and it has access to huge amounts of capital. That Safeway can’t afford to design and build a decent structure in this strong market area is simply not credible.  

And, yes, mixed use is more difficult to develop—there are thorny design and management issues, and the permitting process can be torturous (especially in Berkeley)—but the rewards are great and long lasting. These rewards include providing a resource that would enable more people—like my wife and I—the option of moving from hillside housing to a pedestrian friendly area while maintaining their relationships within the community. It would strengthen the already vibrant street life by placing more people right in the midst of our small shopping area. And, in case you haven’t heard, housing in North Berkeley sells/rents for a premium price.  

I urge Safeway to take the long view and develop a store that respects the values of this community.  

David Stoloff 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing to you to address a problem that has developed over a period of years and which affects not only my property but also the safety and security of the Berkeley hillside neighborhood where I live. 

I live on the bottom half of a hillside in Berkeley, and directly above and to the west of my house there is another lot. The owners of this property, in an effort to add to their property, have engaged in a destructive pattern of eroding and deforesting the hillside, causing damage to my grounds, the grounds around them, and endangering even their own house. 

The pattern of digging, construction and erosion has been going on for a long time; it began in 1985 with previous owners building an illegal deck. Each successive owner of this property has expanded the construction and escalated the digging and the deforestation. 

In the past three years, the most recent owners have been building illegal structures off of the back of the house that have caused drastic erosion to the hillside. The extensive construction work damaged the natural ecosystem of the hill to the point where the city of Berkeley required them to engage a soil engineer to prevent further damage. 

Currently, a pipe sits exposed halfway up the hillside and when it rains, the water runs out of the pipe and creates a path of erosion all the way down the hill.  

I believe that this is a matter of great concern to the community of Berkeley, of which I have been a member for over 40 years. I wish to speak to a reporter about this issue, and ask that someone be sent to the house so that they can see firsthand the problem and how severe it has become. Over the years, I have collected boxes of photographs and other documentation and wish to show them to an investigative reporter so they can fully appreciate the escalation of the issue. 

The city of Berkeley has not adequately responded to my repeated requests for assistance in dealing with this problem; although they have issued several citations that required the owner of the property to dismantle the structures and to shore up the hillside, they have not always followed up to ensure that the requirements were met, and indeed the neighbor simply ignored them because she could. 

We all live in this city together and have a responsibility to maintain the ecosystem around us and not engage in behavior that destroys the natural balance. In addition to the loss of my own privacy, I am grieved at the loss of trees—some of them mine—that were cut down, and I am devastated at the effect that this neighbor’s behavior has had on the innocent wild creatures that used to inhabit this area. It is with this belief in the preservation of our precious resources that I am writing to you for your attention in this matter. 

Laura Stortoni-Hager 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It isn’t news that the Joseph Lieberman of the mid ’90s was another person from the Joseph Lieberman of today. 

I wouldn’t go so far as to call him “Traitor Joe,” or anagrammatically, “Senator Treason,” but I would like to know the full story behind how one of my former heroes (was?) bought into his vote against the public option. 

Ove Ofteness 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for publishing my letter, “Save Point Molate,” in your Dec. 23 edition. Unfortunately, our website address was not included. I am a member of an all-volunteer group, Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate. We oppose the proposed casino complex at Point Molate because of its social and environmental impacts. In collaboration with a Bay Area architect, we are developing an alternative green plan to present to the Richmond City Council. Please visit our website,, and join our efforts. Thank you for your support. 

Pam Stello 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

  If the name Erling Horn rings a bell, that’s because you very likely read articles about the man in the Berkeley Daily Planet this past year. One especially memorable story was that by Riya Bhattacharjee on the occasion of Erling’s 104th birthday, when she interviewed this grand old man in his Berkeley town house apartment, sharing with readers his remarkable achievements and contributions to the community. A month after that story came the news of Erling’s death on Sept. 9, 2009, following a stroke. 

Now, bringing closure to the chapter, a memorial service was held this past Sunday, Dec. 27 at the Montclair Presbyterian Church—“A Celebration of the Life of Erling Horn.” There were no tears shed today, but rather much laughter and affectionate remembrances by his extended family (children, grandchildren, great grandchildren) occupying two full pews in the church, and a host of friends. 

There was one solemn moment when, in recognition of Erling’s service in World War II, three U.S. soldiers marched slowly down the aisle to the altar, where they opened and unfurled an American flag, folded it and and then presented it to Erling, Jr., to the sound of Taps. 

After the service, a reception was held in the church’s social hall, where hundreds of photos and newspaper clippings, showing Erling and his beloved wife, Margaret and their children were posted. After viewing these mementoes, guests then lined up at the refreshment table, filling their plates and glasses, and enjoying a leisurely hour of conversation. All in all—this was a wonderful afternoon and a fitting tribute to the memory of a remarkable man. 

Dorothy Snodgrass 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

An addendum to the EIR concerning Memorial Stadium: The omnibus bill that excludes the stadium will allow for year-round use of the Stadium as an entertainment center.  

This is the most dangerous building on campus, bisected by the Hayward Fault, which has offset the two sides by over a foot since 1927 and severely distorted the piers supporting the stands at either end. Engineers promise miracles, but none have had the experience of building on a fault that then underwent a major quake!  

Here are figures to help you in your deliberations. The US Geological Survey, basing its predictions on a return-time of major quakes on the Hayward Fault of 130 years—the last in 1868, so we are overdue estimates that there is a 65 percent chance of a 6.5 to 7.0 magnitude quake on the Northern Hayward Fault in the next 30 years. Loma Prieto was 6.9. 

So, 30 years X 365 days = 10,950 days.  

Estimated days of occupancy—kids’ camps, football games, practices by several sports, entertainment, staff in offices, activities in the Athletic Complex below the south wall—conservatively, 200 days for 30 years = 6000 divided by 3 (8 hours per day) = 2000.  

2000/10,950 = 18% X 65% = 11.7% chance of killing staff, students, game or entertainment crowds, or kids.  

Well, 11.7 percent? Would you send your kids there with a 11.7 percent chance they’d be killed?  

Georgia Wright 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

After 30 years, Jazzercise is no longer being offered at Live Oak Community Center. Jazzercise used to be taught four days a week and had as many as fifty students attending. Over the years attendance had dwindled to between twenty and thirty students. In July 2008, the newly hired city employee Phil Harper-Cotton threatened to raise the room rental fee for my Jazzercise teacher, Judy Gilford, from 25 percent of her net revenue to 40 percent, or to require an additional hourly rate that she could not afford. She was forced to cut back on classes and had back problems and attendance dwindled further. The final blow came when Judy was recently informed that her contract with the city would not be renewed. 

Jazzercise is not a profitable endeavor. Having been a student for 20 years I know that most teachers teach out of love for the program. Live Oak has a special sprung-wood floor built for dancing. There are few potential rentees lined up waiting for space at Live Oak. Isn’t some money from Jazzercise better than none? The Community Center is just that, not a money making enterprise for the city.  

Elizabeth Ennis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Attention Janis Mitchell (Planet, Dec. 30, p. 21), one does not “pour” over recipes unless there is a liquid involved. Try “pore.” 

John Theye 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Throughout this past decade, we suffered a government that ruled with ignorance, arrogance, incompetence, corruption, and of course, fear. Whether I look at our homeland (in)security, or the corrupted economy, or New Orleans’ failed recovery, or the deterioration of our global climate, I see the catastrophe caused by a government that was not elected by majority vote. The potential for recurring damage remains as long as we use the Electoral College to subvert the will of the majority. 

This arcane institution gives some Americans more voting power than others; it reduces the vote of people who live in populated areas. It enables slick lawyers to “win” elections with fewer votes than their opponents. The problem won’t go away until the Electoral College system is abandoned. Constitutional Amendment is one way to do it; the states’ National Popular Vote initiative ( is another. Either way, we can’t risk another electoral theft. We must change our Presidential election method into a democracy where everyone’s vote counts equally.  

It is taking President Obama’s administration longer than we hoped it would to repair the decade’s damage. Our nation might not survive another mis-administration. 

Bruce Joffe 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Israel plans to build 700 homes in east Jerusalem, a hindrance to progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace. Condition precedents to peace are an Israel freeze on settlements and recognition of a two-state solution. Without peace, the U.S. will not regain credibility in the Middle East. Now is the time for a long overdue debate on our current Israeli foreign aid policy. Since the October War in 1973, until recently supplanted by Iraq, Israel was the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War II. Israel receives about $3 billion in direct assistance each year, roughly one-fifth of the foreign aid budget, and worth about $500 a year for every Israeli. U.S. foreign aid to Israel exacerbates tensions in the region. 

Isn’t it time to end our lockstep foreign aid support of Israel? In the past, the United States reduced loan guarantees to Israel in opposition to continued settlement building, but it has not acted to cut Israel’s military or economic aid. Maybe it is time to reconsider this policy.  

Ralph E. Stone 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Dana M. Chernack referred to “real live gypsies” in a recent reader contribution (Dec. 30). This would be like writing “real live jews,”—where both words (gypsies, jews) are denied a proper noun’s upper-case initial, and are used instead metaphorically. Both words are, of course, and seldom positively. Gypsies (properly “Romanies”) are a distinct people, defined by genetic descent and not by behavior. 

Ian Hancock 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I thank Mr. Rafael Moshe from Hayward for his letter of correction & ellucidation, in response to Mr. Jack Forbes’ commentary entitled: Jesus the “Palestinian” (Dec.17.) 

Two additional corrections to Mr. Forbes’ commentary: Jesus’ original Hebrew-given name was not: Ye’ho’shu’aa (=God the redeemer/savior)—as indicated. That was rather the name 

of Joshu’aa, the Israelite leader (successor of Moses/Moshe). Instead, Jesus’ Hebrew name was: Ye’shu’aa (the redeemer/savior)—without the letter ‘h’-for God. 

  i) the name: Palestinian—from Ancient Egyptian’s P-R-SH-T/Hebrew’s P-L-SH-(not Arabic) meaning: invade! The name Palestine, comes from Jesus’own initial deniers and crucifiers—the Romans (who, later adopted Christianity & got assimilated in it)—who, under Caesar Hadrian, in 132CE, changed the original land’s name from the Kingdom of Judea/Mamlekhet 

Ye’hudda (Iudae) to Syria Palaestina (to alienate and isolate the Jews). Historically, many groups of people formed the loose “confederation” of “Palestinians”—the descendants of the  

Biblical Philistines. It was a collection of several Eastern Mediterranean ethnic groups from the Aegian Sea to Asia Minor (Turkey, Greece, even, Libya), coming from Ahhiyawa or: Ekmesh-in Hittite with Ahhiyawa assigned to mainland Greece’s Thrace region-like European Turkey; Southern Bulgaria and Rhodes. They also came from Western Anatolia, one of the Aegean Sea islands, or both, with their main base in Anatolia’s Millawanda. One of their Greek islands’ base was Crete—home to the Minoan civilization between 3500-1600BCE and the following Mycenaean between 1600-1100BCE. 

  Palestinians’ ethnic groups consisted of: 

  a) The above-discussed Peleset group. 

b) The Lukka who may have come from the Lycian region of Anatolia.  

c) The Ekwesh & Denen/Danaan (Danuna)—the latter seemingly identified with the Homeric Achaean (also referred to as: Danaean & Argivean Greeks)—the early Mycenaean Greeks. 

d) The Sherden (Shardana) who may be associated with Sardinia. 

e) The Teresh (Tursha or Tyrshenoi-the Tyrrhenians-related to the Albanians, whose modern-day capital is: Tyranna) and from the Greek name for the Etruscans; or from the Western Anatolian Taruisa. 

f) Shekelesh (Shekresh, Sikeloi-Sicilians?). 

  Based on all currently-available scientific evidence, it is impossible to claim that Jesus was a Palestinian (as opposed to what some would want to call him!). As important to consider is what is the motivation behind wanting to revise history and change its facts (Jesus’ nationality)—to match any fictitious agenda... 

  ii) As per Jesus’ trade: he was thought to have inherited his father’s trade as carpenter (mentioned by Mr. Forbes) although, some scholars believe he has inherited the skills of a mason! 

Avi Klammer 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

  Ex-governor Sarah Palin’s current national tour for her book, Going Rogue, might offer the opportunity for some enterprising person(s) to ask her a few questions of general interest. 

  Governor Palin, based on what we knew at the time, do you think we should have invaded Iraq? And based on what we know today, do you think we should have invaded Iraq? If you were President today, what would your policy be towards Iraq? 

If you were President today, what would your policy be towards Iran?  

Do you approve or disapprove of President Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan? What would be our best policy in Afghanistan today, in your view?  

Do you think the United States is doing enough to help the members of our armed services, once they return from conflicts overseas? If not, what should we be doing? 

What do you think of the US Constitution? Is there anything about it you especially value? Is there anything you find less important? Do you think the United States should continue to maintain the separation between church and state as currently embodied in the Constitution? 

What do you think are the most important qualities for a President of the United States to have? Do you think George W. Bush possessed some, most, or all of those qualities? What qualities and values would you bring to the office of President of the United States, if elected? 

If you were President of the United States and Alaska voted to secede from the Union, what would you say? What would you do? If Alaska seceded from the Union, would you support its inclusion in NATO? In OPEC? 

A good many governors of US states have terms that will expire within the next 14 months. Do you consider them to be lame ducks at this time? If so, what should they do about it? If you had been elected Vice President of the United States in 2008, would you have served the full four-year term as Vice President? Why or why not? 

If you were elected President of the United States, would you pledge to serve out the full four-year term? Would you seek re-election for a second term as allowed for in the Constitution? 

What would you say is the single most important issue facing our country today? What are your ideas for dealing with that issue for the benefit of all Americans? 

Brad Belden 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

John Yoo is such a wit! Read his Dec. 29 New York Times interview with Deborah Solomon and see if you don't agree that he’s a laugh riot. What’s next? A talk show? Time Magazine “Man of the Year?” But this little Q & A is troubling: 

Solomon: I see various groups are protesting a decision by a California government lawyer to teach a course with you that starts on Jan. 12, claiming he is legitimizing your unethical behavior.  

Yoo: At Berkeley, protesting is an everyday activity. I am used to it. I remind myself of West Berlin—West Berlin surrounded by East Germany during the Cold War. 

Solomon: Are you saying the citizens of Berkeley are Communists, reminiscent of those on the dark side of the Iron Curtain?  

Yoo: There are probably more Communists in Berkeley than any other town in America, but I think of them more as lovers of Birkenstocks than Marx. 

This hits close to home since I frequently protest Mr. Yoo at his house in Berkeley and at UC Law School. I don’t own a pair of Birkenstocks and am not a Communist, and neither are many who protest Yoo, so I think he’s mistaken in this characterization of protestors. His failed and transparent attempt at a neat and tidy dismissal of the anti-torture protests he faces in Berkeley and around the country is understandable, but anemic. As I see it, protesting Yoo’s role in torture is a patriotic duty. Opposition to Yoo and torture crosses party lines and political approaches. Law school students and faculty as well as distinguished legal scholars disagree with Yoo’s actions and attitudes. Daphne Eviatar’s says in her “Washington Independent” critique of Yoo's new book Crisis And Command, that it’s “clearly another of Yoo's attempts to defend his most outrageous legal theories, including those that have been roundly criticized by prominent Republicans who served in the Bush administration.” In an earlier article she details the many constitutional lawyers and other legal experts who repudiate Yoo ( He can joke about it all he wants, but we’re serious about wanting him prosecuted for giving a legal green light to torture, warrantless wiretapping and other criminal actions. 

Citizens who oppose torture carried out in their names because of Yoo's unethical and shoddy lawyering are invited to join a protest on Jan. 12, at Yoo’s first class of the semester, 6 p.m., UC Law School, Bancroft at College Ave. Birkenstocks optional. For more information go to 

Cynthia Papermaster 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Were we the public ever consulted as to whether we wanted there to be man made clouds in the sky? They really are of an inferior quality to the traditional natural cloud. They rain down a white particulate matter that seems to persist as a constant white haze, blurring views of hills and mountains. 

The scientists are using unhealthy ingredients in their cloud patent formulas, such as polymer fibers, toxic metals, including barium salts, aluminum oxide, and radioactive thorium. 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was happy with nature controlling the weather. Seems that some scientists and military men aren’t happy unless they can control everything. 

Look up! 

Google “Manmade clouds” California Skywatch, Barium Blues, H.A.A.R.P. 

Vivian Warkentin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

War has been a fact of life since our distant ancestors stood upright and realized that their hands were now free to hold rocks. While eventually, we may evolve beyond war, it isn't going to happen in the foreseeable future. 

That said, what do we do with the mess we’re in today? We have two wars going on, and there seems no end in sight. At the same time, we are, as a nation, in debt one and a half trillion bucks. And, no, none of us can wrap our heads around that number. 

Being a simple person, I have a simple solution: a war tax. If we’re going to dash out and make war, we shouldn’t wrap it in a sugar pill, leaving the bitter taste for some future generation. If we have a war now, we should pay now. 

When Congress votes money for a war, that should automatically include a tax, starting that same day, a tax on every wage earner, every business and corporation, every pension. 

This would accomplish three things. It would remove the disconnect between the war and its repercussions on our economy. It would also pay as we go, rather than ratcheting up a debt that will have us paying interest for generations. Finally, watching that money disappear from each paycheck may cause us to stop and ask ourselves if this is a necessary war. 

Americans are willing to pay for a necessary war, but maybe not for one of choice. 

Meade Fischer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The way to enhance early learning is to keep curiosity alive in young children. Children are naturally keen to find out what their world is like. They look all over. New sounds, new colors, new food, new well-arranged environments—all these hold a child’s interest. A bright colorful room and the plenty of space to walk and explore makes a child a scientist. 

Young children do need quality time with their caregivers but that does not mean they should not have freedom to explore on their own. The time frame on the board should not deprive children of dream time full of curiosity and imagination. 

The time clock can’t ever be reversed. If young children are not allowed to explore and dream their inborn curiosity will atrophy. 

Romila Khanna 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Before we turn to a new round of political wrangling in 2010 how about a little light hearted fun. 

Male and female: a new perspective for a new year and decade. Men and women are self-balancing, 28-jointed adapter-based bipeds; electro-chemical reduction plants, segregated stowages of special energy with thousands of hydraulic and pneumatic pumps, motors included; 62,000 miles of capillaries; millions of warning signals, railroad and conveyor systems; crushers and cranes—of which the arms are magnificant 23-jointed affairs with self-surfacing and lubricating systems, and a universally distributed telephone system needing no service for 70 years if well managed—the whole, extraordinarily complex mechanis is guided with exquisite precision from a turret in which are located telescopic and microscopic self-registering and recording range finders; the turret is closely allied with an air-conditioning intake-and-exhaust, and a main fuel intake system. 

Man is also a mechanism integrating radar devices, an intricate filing system equipped for ready-reference, and a laboratory which computes many years of experience not only exclusively but also in relation to the environment. There is even a system which can analyze future posibilities and arrive at conclusions. 

Woman is a mobile unit, traveling freely on land, water, and air, operating on a system of both direct and indirect impulses. 

And every person is ultimately guided by a soul. 

The soul is intangible and imperceivable to the five senses. It weighs little or nothing, as has been proven by weighing the original mechanism after the soul has departed (commonly known as “death”). When the soul evacuates the machine, the entire mechanism is unable to function and disintegrates into very basic chemical elements. 

The soul is infinite in regard to self-identity and understanding and is able to sympathize with the individual souls in similar mechanisms. 

The personality, ego, body, is a temporary vehicle while the soul is awareness, perfection and eternal unity. Truth for a new decade. 

Ron Lowe  

Nevada City