Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday August 03, 2010 - 10:31:00 PM

A Note On Yiddish; Scapegoating; Syria; Meg Whitman; Spay and Neuter; The History of BP; Country or Empire; Send Them Home 


A Note On Yiddish 

A correspondent wrote asking how much money the Daily Planet receives from BP, and the editor answered "bupkes." 

Bupkes is the Yiddish word for beans. It is used to mean anything that is insignificant or negligible, but it it not strictly correct to use it to mean "nothing." 

Instead, I suggest the word gurnisht (usually pronounced goonisht). 

In German nischts means "nothing" and gurnischts means "absolutely nothing." 

In Yiddish, you almost always say gurnisht to mean "nothing." If you want to go further, you say gurnisht mit gurnisht - literally "nothing with nothing" - to mean "absolutely nothing." 

And gurnisht mit gurnisht obviously is exactly what the Daily Planet gets from BP. 

Charles Siegel 



What's new in Arizona? Scapeoating Hispanics, Latinos and Mexicans. To hear some folks describe it, Republicans and Tea Partiers and Rush Limbaugh types - America is under attack by crazed rapacious and thieving hordes that are pouring across the southern border bent on occupying the country. These illegal immigrants - or "aliens" or "invaders" in the vernacular of those who complain incessantly about them - are described as consuming vast sums of welfare and health care funds, committing countless crimes, clogging the prisons and in other ways are ruining what would be an idyllic paradise. 

During an election year, Republicans latch on to and ramp up the anti-immigration issue. The hysteria over undocumented workers is a "hot button" issue being used to stir up Tea Party Republicans around the country. 

Talking heads claim that undocumented immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans. Not true and eliminating immigrant workers would be a serious blow to the U.S. economy. 

Those who are coming to the United States illegally are, overwhelmingly coming to work and better themselves and their families. Don't believe fantasies and lies being peddled by self-serving, self-appointed patriots. 

Ron Lowe 



Before World War 1, Lebanon was a part of Syria and had been a part of Syria for hundreds of years! Lebanon had not been independent since almost the times when Israel was independent. For hundreds of years it had been occupied by Romans, Arabs or Turks or somebody. And when World War 1 rolled around, Lebanon was a part of Syria and had been a part of Syria for hundreds of years. 

Which, of course, was the idea in the World War 1 settlement. They gave Israel or Palestine to the British, and they gave Lebanon to the French. I think they called it the Levant. Syria was one of the defeated powers because they had worked with the Germans, so they ripped off Lebanon from Syria and they ripped off Palestine from the Turks! Neither one of them had been an independent country for centuries. 

So the point is that both Israel and Lebanon are artificial countries! Palestine had been a country for generations, but it was under the Turks and the Arabs. But both were the artificial creations of the conquering powers, particularly Lebanon. They hadn't been free or independent for hundreds of years, it was a part of Syria. So when Lebanon had their big civil war, the Arabs agreed that Syria should move in to Lebanon and settle it and stop the civil war and enforce peace, and they did. Of course, this aggravated the Israelis because they didn't get a piece of the action! Well, they did move in for awhile, but then they got forced out by the UN and World opinion. So finally they just invaded Lebanon against the UN and World opinion and grabbed the bottom half anyway. 

They're all such a bunch of liars and pretenders, particularly Israel and the U.S.! 

Ted Rudow III,MA 


Meg Whitman 

It was reported that during Meg Whitman's last three years at eBay their stock lost 50 percent of its value after she bought Skype and moved eBay into Communist China. 

She then simply "retired." Now she's spent $91 million trying to buy our state's top elected office, so far bringing herself about even in the polls. 

Now, according to the Chronicle, she's giving $40 million of her own money to the Republican Party so they will start campaigning for her. 

Meanwhile, she won't discuss anything with Jerry Brown. I think I know why she's afraid to talk politics and finances with him. 

Let's see - Citizen Whitman can't be bothered to vote, but thinks we should allow her to start her political career as California's governor, and she's spending like there's no tomorrow to buy votes. Do you want someone like her to run California's finances. 

Ms. Whitman, give us a break. Californians deserve better than you. Please find another way to solve you boredom. 

Ron Lowe 


Spay and Neuter 

The California Veterinary Medical Board is sponsoring California Spay and Neuter license plates. If you love dogs and cats this is a wonderful way to support them, and let the world know how you feel by displaying the plate on your car. 

You pay $50 for a sequentially numbered plate, the words CA SPAY will be on the plate as well as a picture painted by Pierce Brosnan the actor. It depicts the dog and cat his family has adopted. 

A total of 7500 plates must be ordered before the DMV will begin making them. Your $50 will be refunded if there isn't enough interest in the project. Proceeds will be distributed to cities and counties throughout California for free and low cost spay and neuter programs through shelters, clinics and vouchers redeemable at local veterinarians. 

For complete information go to this website or, call 1(800)-390-1541. 

Janet D Wilson 


The History of BP 

The history of the company we now call BP over the last hundred years has really traced the arc of global transnational capitalism. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company, guaranteed itself, or won the right to own, all of Iran’s oil. So, nobody in Iran had any right to drill for oil or extract oil or sell oil. 

Then, soon after that find was made, the British government decided to buy the company. So the Parliament passed a law and bought 51 percent of that company. And all during the 1920s and 1930s and 1940s, the entire standard of living that people in England enjoyed was supported by oil from Iran. So that became a fundamental foundation of British life. 

And then, after World War II, when the winds of nationalism and anti-colonialism were blowing throughout the developing world, Iranians developed this idea: we’ve got to take our oil back. It was Mosaddegh's desire, supported by a unanimous vote of the democratically elected parliament of Iran, to nationalize what was then the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. They carried out the nationalization. 

The British and their partners in the United States fiercely resisted this. And when they were unable to prevent it from happening, they organized the overthrow of Mosaddegh in 1953. So that overthrow not only produced the end of the Mosaddegh government, but the end of democracy in Iran, and that set off all these other following consequences. 

Ted Rudow III,MA 


Country or Empire 

The United States now faces an economic crossroad driven to this precipice on the wheels of a fiscal train-wreck, a creation of the Bush/Cheney regime: we must now choose between country and empire. President Obama promised hope, but has delivered hypocrisy. it's time for you, our elected representatives to wholeheartedly oppose Obama's continuation of war. 

Dr. Stephen Kane 


Send Them Home 

A recent front page article in the Berkeley Daily Planet detailed the unfortunate plight of Teresa Mina who was forced to return to an impoverished town in Veracruz. As a hard-working undocumented janitor in the United States, she sent money back to her family for a period of six years. The apparent villain of the story was her employer who asked for her immigration papers. Wrong. --Both the janitor and the employer happen to be victims of short-sighted social policies. 

Approximately one-third of the 200 million Latin American citizens live in poverty. As a wealthy neighbor, United States has a moral obligation to correct this situation, and the process has begun. The total U.S. trade deficit with Latin American countries was approximately $50 billion in 2008. In the next century, it is likely that there will be a significant transfer of wealth from the United States to Latin America. 

Based on personal experience working for the World Bank in developing countries, I believe there are good and not-so-good ways to transfer wealth. Illegal immigrants sending remittances back home is one of the worse. Not only are undocumented workers subject to exploitation, but the remittances feed an underground economy in the home country. This economy goes untaxed which then deprives the government of funds necessary to support educational, medical, and social services most needed by the poor. In contrast, programs that stop illegal immigration and simultaneously support legitimate judicial systems, women's rights, private capital investment, and microenterprises in developing countries are good ways to transfer wealth. Teresa Mina was appropriately deported; now it is time to help her town. 

Robert Gable