Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday May 11, 2011 - 09:44:00 AM

Clarification; No Justification for Tax Breaks to Oil and Gas Companies; Library Letter; A Book of Memories; Assassination of bin Laden; A "Precise" Attack near Islamabad 


When I wrote my commentary about the current controversy surrounding the proposed renovation or demolition of the South branch of the Berkeley Public Library, I did so with the sole purpose of pointing out a very important issue that seems to have been entirely left out of this debate; the lack of compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) at the South branch. 

The reason why I endorsed demolition and replacement of the structure is because I simply cannot see how the present building can be made ADA compliant, given its small size. However, I am not completely wedded to the idea of demolition. If the present structure can somehow be made ADA compliant, then fine. Let's do it! 

Frankly, I still can't see it happening. 

Blane Beckwith 

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No Justification for Tax Breaks to Oil and Gas Companies 

How can Congress continue to justify billions in unneeded tax breaks, loopholes that for too long have fed our dependency on dirty, carbon-polluting fuels? 

Are members of Congress really serious about deficit reduction when year after year they rubberstamp these tax breaks -- subsidies that in reality are $4 billion lost to the U. S. Treasury over 10 years?  

If reducing oil dependency and cutting carbon are not compelling enough reasons to repeal these tax breaks, surely using these lost funds to cut the deficit is, in a Congress reeling with deficit-reduction fever. I hope our members of Congress will do right and push for repeal of oil company tax breaks.  

The bottom line is that the GOP in charge of the House, are not looking for ways to address serious decisions that would change how business is conducted in America; when it comes to curving oil's damage to our health, environment, wiidlife, safety to its workers, and ultimately, to our dependence on foreign oil, as well as domestic use. So where are the jobs going to come from in the future? 

Gus Gomez 

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Library Letter 

I thoroughly dislike the landmarks preservation concept, but I support the lawsuit against the demolition of the libraries using funds not earmarked for that purpose. Why should anyone vote for bonds, if the city can simply interpret the language anyway it wants, and take the money and spend it on anything they want? If demolition is such a great idea, put a bond on the ballot that replaces the existing bond, and explicitly allows demolition. The ends and the means cannot be disentangled.  

Robert Clear 

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A Book of Memories 

My most cherished possession, oddly enough, is a worn 25-year old address book. Printed in China exclusively for Marcel Shurman and beautifully illustrated by Nahid Aryan Ghodsi, this 5-1/2" by 7" book is one I refer to daily. It's always on my desk. On the inside cover I've noted all kinds of personal data -- password to my computer, ATM number, Kaiser primary doctor, attorney, etc. 

I love the layout of the book: name and address, phone number, and e-mail. Each alphabetized page bears a lovely illustration. On some pages I've slashed through names with a dark pen, marking "deceased." Alas, on many pages there are more "deceased" than living. But that's life, I guess. Leafing through the pages evokes so many memories --some happy, but often sad. For example, on p. B, my dear friend Maria, now dead, survived two years with her infant daughter in a Nazi concentration camp, yet harboring no bitterness, only gratitude for making her way to the U.S. 

On another page, I'm reminded of a dear, dear friend, Marty, with whom I worked at U.C. Her home went up in flames in the Oakland hills fire storm. She also bore up cheerfully under the loss of her home and all her worldly possessions. But the trauma took a toll of her stalwart spirit and she died of a stroke a year later. 

I still lament the loss of my friend, Gloria, with whom I traveled in Greece and Turkey, as well as a cruise on a Princess ship, where we paused and observed a moment of silence at the 9/11 site. At the risk of being totally morbid, Gloria succumbed to pancreatic cancer two years ago. Since I'm dwelling on these somber cases, p. S bears the name of another dear friend, Beverly, battling Parkinson's Disease, which is rapidly robbing her of her passion for travel, theatre and movies. 

On a more cheerful note, on p. E, I recall with great pleasure the 32 or more wonderful Elderhostel trips I've taken over the past few years -- Great Britain, Italy and France. I hope to take a trip to Santa Fe later this Spring. 

Again, striking another cheerful note, on p. U, I'm extremely grateful for the many years I worked at U.C.'s Boalt Hall Law School and where I now serve on the Board of Directors of the U.C. Retirees' Association. I'm thrilled and quite literally overcome with the knowledge that the University of California at Berkeley is regarded the leading University in the World! 

From all of the above, I believe you can appreciate why this Address Book is such an important part of my life, representing as it does, vivid memories of my life in Berkeley and the campus community. 

Dorothy Snodgrass 

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Assassination of bin Laden 

President Obama said that the bin Laden raid was one of the most successful intelligence and military operations in America's history. "This week has been a reminder of what we're about as a people, the essence of America, the values that have defined us for more than 200 years, they don't just endure - they're stronger than ever." According to Obama, our values include the unauthorized incursion into Pakistan's sovereign territory to illegally assassinate an unarmed Osama bin Laden and members of his entourage. From the flag-waving, the dancing in the streets, the shouts of joy. feelings of revenge, and "patriotism," I guess many Americans agree with Obama.  

By assassinating Osama bin Laden, we lost any ideological advantage we might have had -- the promotion of democracy, freedom and human rights. We became the thugs our enemies say we are. As Walt Kelly's Pogo remarked, "We have met the enemy and he is us." 

Ralph E. Stone 

Judi Iranyi 

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A "Precise" Attack near Islamabad 

I recently wrote to President Obama, instructing him that the price of my vote in the next election was freedon for Pfc. Manning. Will the U.S. President's numbers continue to soar when the Israeli Prime Minister speaks to Congress later this month? Won't it look like one too many trumpets? The Israelis held off when hit by Scud missiles during the Iraq shock'n'awe. Will they stay home for the continuing Osama post-mortem? 

If the Pakistani secret service were protecting Osama bin Laden (as is conceivable because of the proximity of Islamabad) why would commentators like John Yoo of UC Berkeley Boalt Hall claim -- as the CIA Director or his clone and now Ambrose also claim with complicity -- that the U.S. identified one of the brothers as a courier with connections to the former number three of Al Qaeda and a mastermind of the September 11 attacks who was captured in 2005 & so forth [meaning, that the incarcerated individual was tortured, as were so many others.] 

In reply to Prof. Yoo's unsupported assertion that "torture helps:" another lawyer, a professor named Obama used a recent interview to call on Pakistan to investigate what kind of support Bin Laden may have received while hiding. “We think that there had to be some sort of support network for Bin Laden inside of Pakistan,” Prof. Obama said. 

“But we don't know who or what that support network was. We don't know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that's something that we have to investigate, and more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate.”  

But will Yoo claim he is legally entitled to the reward money for the big kill, or the extraction of the corpse and its burial at sea, since he wrote the waterboarding memo for Obama's immediate predecessor? And will he give a taste to freelance reporters and letter-to-the-editor writers? 

Richard Thompson 

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