No to the FTAA
As I read about the proceedings of the Free Trade Area of the Americas meetings in Quebec City, I ask myself, how important is it for the United States consumer to save a few cents each time we buy orange juice? This may not seem like an important question but this is exactly the reason Brazil and other countries would like to see the FTAA become a reality: access to U.S. markets.
But how would this help us? It would certainly put a burden on U.S. orange growers to sell at lower prices, forcing more family farmers out of business and/or forcing growers in turn to reduce wages/benefits for workers. It would also mean that our glass of orange juice has traveled many extra thousands of miles to reach our breakfast tables, resulting in countless tons of unneeded pollution and wasting immense amounts of energy. But we will save a few cents at the store!
Let your politicians know that the FTAA is a bad idea for our country and for the world.
Beth El is a very good neighbor
In a letter to the Berkeley Daily Planet (April 14-15), Susan Schwartz expresses some concerns about possible noise and disturbance should Congregation Beth El move into its new premises in her neighborhood. I hope I can alleviate some of those fears from personal experience, because I am the closest neighbor of Beth El (bordering their property in an L-shape on two sides) in their current premises. The Beth El kitchen window overlooks our living room with less than 15 feet and only a wooden fence between us.
We are not members of the synagogue, but have valued its presence and made use of its excellent community programs.
Camp Kee Tov’s summer session is the busiest time of the year for Beth El in terms of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, but we have been struck by the organization and efficiency with which Camp Kee Tov guarded against irritation to the neighbors. (This included counselors on the sidewalks directing traffic to move quickly at the open and close of each day.)
Generally, the synagogue is the best neighbor one could have - extremely quiet, unintrusive, and without any traffic problems. I have never had anyone block the entrance to my driveway/garage, and nor has my husband had trouble finding a spot nearby for his car. I see people walking to synagogue on a Saturday morning and they greet us courteously. I hear and see the nursery school children playing in the backyard - the noise level is never disturbing. The students at after-school religious classes can be a little noisy during breaks, but those voices will not be audible to neighbors of the new site. Sunday morning classes for teenagers have been a non-event for us as neighbors at 9 am; only staff members arrive at 7 or 8 am during the week and I never hear them. Evening meeting or adult education classes are no more noticeable than the comings and goings of my other neighbors, and in fact provide us with an additional sense of security when our home is empty.
In addition, my husband has his office at home, overlooking the most frequently used entrance to Beth El, but his work and conference calls have never been disturbed.
As far as the holding of bar mitzvah parties on weekends goes, Saturday nights are the only regular possibilities. There have been some parties at the current site but the noise level has been negligible. It seems impressive to me that the designers of the new site have added additional cushioning by incorporating soundproofing, air conditioning (so that windows are closed during nighttime gatherings), inward-facing buildings, and landscape screening, not to mention some on-site parking. Most importantly, as neighbors we have the protection of Berkeley’s noise ordinance: if a party is too noisy, the music is cut off at 10 p.m.
On a number of occasions I have walked past the new property, which seems overgrown and run down and in need of an appreciative and vigorous owner. I wish Beth El the best luck there, but our family will always remember with nostalgia our time living next to the synagogue.
Linda Press Wulf and Stanley Wulf
Mammogram story did disservice
The Associated Press report that the Daily Planet chose to reprint, concerning the impact of mammograms, did a disservice to your readers (“Routine Mammograms Impact Cancer Deaths”). There remains absolutely no substantial proof that mammograms have reduced the breast cancer death rate in any way whatsoever. As a matter of fact, death from breast cancer has been rising at an alarming rate, regardless of mammograms, chemotherapy and radiation.
The American Cancer Society is surely part of the problem; responsible for funneling millions of dollars annually into a failed program of treatment, uninterested in discussing or addressing the causes of cancer. They have succeeded only in keeping the money flowing and the public ignorant.
Your readers should note that the current study they’ve been touting was devised by scientists employed by the American Cancer Society. Any independent studies have shown no correlation at all between conventional advice and long-term survival. The most comprehensive, independent study done to this date (a 20 year study in England), suggests that women who do absolutely nothing live longer quality lives than those who follow doctor’s orders.
Community must address crime
I am the mother of one of the pedestrians attacked and beaten by three “high-school-aged assailants” mentioned in the April 18 police briefs. I felt moved to let readers know that the (understandably) anonymous description of the victims (bad word – target of violent intentions, perhaps?) and the results of the vicious, even pointless, assaults, begs for expansion.
First, to know that our son, much like the Daily Planet’s readers and the other targets of the attack, comes from a loving, caring family. We moved to Berkeley in 1979, believing it would be like Ann Arbor, with sunshine year-round and safe for any 10-year-old. We were soon relieved of both myths (the safety issue after only two trips down Telegraph Avenue).
Then, years later, this. We’re still waiting for facial x-ray results - fractured bones or ‘just’ lingering soreness? The broken finger is splinted in a short-arm cast. The blood-filled, black-and-blue eyes are slowly resolving. We thank God for his life. Other parents have not been so lucky.
This son, our youngest ‘child’ (could he be ‘a man walking along...listening to a portable CD player’?) kept the attack from us for three days.
He apologized for not showing up to help with his dad on Thursday due to some ‘muscle aches.’ When the truth came out he said, “Mom, I didn’t think you would be able to handle seeing my face as it was then.” I woke up at four the next morning and cried until past dawn.
Ohlone Park is notorious for ‘campers’ and other character-disordered types using public grounds as toilets and/or lying-in-wait for locals naive enough to think they can take a walk after dark.
The Police Department claims most attackers in Berkeley come from Richmond and Oakland.
So what is being done? Where are the neighborhood citizen patrols? Where is the improved lighting in streets and parks (voted down in the last election)? Why the apathy among neighbors? Imagine this: a man admitted looking out of his window as the criminals knocked my son to his knees, but didn’t call 911 because he “thought it was just some kid getting beat up.”
name withheld by request
I am a teacher at the Berkeley Independent Study program writing in reference to Ben Lumpkin’s Monday piece on the Alternative School. What about us? Our program has far more students and staff (approximately 200 students and 30 teachers) than the Alternative High School. So, in fact, the three acre campus has to hold around 350 people. Independent Study is a part of Berkeley High but is also an alternative program located on the campus of the Alternative High School. We are the largest alternative program on the campus of the Alternative High School and one of the largest alternative programs in the entire Berkeley Unified School District? How can you write an article about the campus without mentioning the majority of the people who work and study there?
Teacher, Berkeley Independent Study