Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 08:21:00 PM

What Would Dr. King Do? 

Re: "What would Dr. Martin Luther King do?” (“A Grander Vision,” W. Schlesinger) 

That’s easy. He wouldn’t turn on the hardest working, least funded, most direct charity in the East Bay. 

Food Not Bombs deserves celebration and thanks in this, its 20th year. It deserves special recognition for being the living embodiment of the park’s most essential traditions. 

Carol Denney 

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Stop Wasting Tax Money on Wild Horse Roundup 

Congress is grappling with spending cuts, yet tens of millions of tax dollars are wasted on a relatively unknown Interior Department program that rounds up thousands of wild horses from the West every year. 

President Obama spoke to the Nation about "streamlining" ineffective gov. agencies, the BLM is a prime candidate. 

Now a recent Tube video shows a helicopter heartlessly stampeding an elder wild horse who collapses from exhaustion during a government roundup currently underway in Nevada. 

The federal government already warehouses more wild horses in holding pens and pastures (40,000+) than are left free in the wild, yet the roundups continue. Our tax dollars paid for this wasteful federal program to the tune of $67 million last year. 

The cost, lost freedom, family and loss of life, is also high for America's mustangs, who are protected as part of our national heritage, but are being terrorized and driven off federally protected wild horse and burro public lands, to make room for commercial livestock grazing. 

It's time for taxpayers to speak up against this inhumanity and fiscal insanity. 

We are Calling 1,800,000 to rise up, one voice for wild horse and burro freedom, upon wild horses and burro federally protected land. 

Fire the BLM from management of our wild horses, burros and land. 

Free our wild horses and burros now. 

To learn more, please visit and spread awareness: 

Jetara Tara-Argall 

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Build Trust 

When legislators want to transform failing schools, they forget that it takes time to build trust between teachers and alienated students. Many alienated students have never had a chance to express their feelings without fear of reprimand. A good teacher begins by regarding students not as a group but as individuals who have asembled for a class. Such a teacher listens to each student with deep attention. The respect a teacher shows in his or her listening motivates students with low self esteem. A student's effort in trying to say something meaningful receives full validation. I was at an interview during which I was asked by members of the interview board: "What are the tools you need to teach your students?" I answered, "Within a week I will motivate them to be self-learners but I want to use my own methods. I must be left free to design a curriculum for them." I was not given a chance to place my research on the table. I was not selected for the job. Every teacher has his or her own style of bringing about positive changes but old ways of thinking are hierarchical. According to this old view only the chair decides which teaching style is best for the entire department. Not only is the alienated student not motivated but the teacher's eagerness to help the student is stubbed. His or her keen desire to bring out the best in ordinary students goes waste. 

Romila Khanna 

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Mostly Mozart 

I received an e-mail last Saturday evening informing me of a free staged reading of a Mozart opera to be performed by the Berkeley West Edge Opera Lab the next afternoon at the Berkeley Piano Club. The work to be performed was a little known short opera, "Zaide". 

That phrase "little known" triggered an alarm, raising a question in my mind. To me it suggested that this opera is just plain no good! Or, to put it more delicately, it's perhaps not up to that composer's usual compelling scores. 

So, o.k., the opera wasn't that great, but spending two hours in the small auditorium of that lovely Berkeley Piano Club on Haste Street was a pleasure in itself. In "googling" for information on the Club I learned that it was founded in 1893 and is one of the nation's few musical clubs with private performance space. The landmark designation includes the Bertha Newell House at the front of the property, once the residence of John Galen Howard. 

In an upstairs workshop, a Manhattan Project scientist designed a triggering mechanism for the atom bomb. That scientist, of course, was none other than J. Robert Oppenheimer. We should be thankful he didn't blow up the place! 

Getting back to "Zaide", thanks to the very helpful program notes, we know that Mozart started work on this piece in Salzburg in 1779. He wasn't very pleased with it, which is understandable. It's a rather bizarre story with a Turkish setting, having to do with Sultans and slaves and executions. 

Fortunately for the audience, an affable pianist/commentator, Robert Ashens, made sense of the story, and five excellent vocalists sang the moving, emotional lyrics in both German and English. During intermission, guests gathered in the Club's lovely garden, enjoying wine, cheese and crackers and luscious desserts. Granted that Mo's "little known" opera was nothing to write home about, all in all it was a lovely afternoon, thanks to the Berkeley West Edge Opera Lab and the talented artists who participated in the program. 

Dorothy Snodgrass 

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Who Supports the Tea Party

Have you been paying attention? In a recent poll, 71% of Republicans" describe themselves as tea party supporters." Republican pundits keep asking the question, "Why are we still in Afghanistan?" As I recall Republicans and George Bush got us into the war in Afghanistan. 

Lock and load. Even after the Tucson shooting, the GOP and NRA are deadset against any new gun control. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin appeal to the female "Mama Grizzles" who account for a 'disproportionate amount of the Tea Party ranks.' 

Remember: Pastor Terry Jones who threatened to burn the Koran on the September 11 anniversary sparking worldwide reaction. A Texas judge sentenced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to three years in prison on money-laundering and conspiracy charges. 

The GOP's effort to dismantle health reform under the catchy name Repealing the Job Killing Health Care Act" was a flat-out lie. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says tens of thousands of new health care jobs will be created. How will the Republicans and conservatives downplay the continuing economic upturn? 

Ron Lowe  

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Obama' s Silence on Climate Change 

Bob Burnett is correct that Obama has been almost entirely silent about what is perhaps the greatest threat facing humanity and much of life on earth: the climate change that is already manifesting itself in catastrophic weather events as well as melting ice and sea level rise. The president's silence is more heinous than his predecessor's since, unlike Bush Junior, Obama ostensibly believes in the reality of climate change but does nothing to educate the public about it. Does he think that the wealth he has recently accumulated will insulate his daughters from the consequences of his inaction now? 

Bennett's article is a non sequitur, however. He concludes by saying that "we" can still mobilize to fight climate change. Unfortunately, we have failed to act for too long: the feedback loops are locking in and the extreme weather events demonstrate that it is not just our children or grandchildren who will suffer. Turn on the nightly news and you will see that the future is now; all we can do is watch until the lights flicker and go out. 

Gray Brechin 

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Bearer of Bad News 

Bob Burnett's climate change wakeup call ["The Public Eye: Global Climate Change...," 2/9] is preaching to the converted in Berkeley, while most others fiddle while Rome is burning, either preferring to ignore bad news or as willing victims of the Koch/Fox propaganda machine. We are told the rapidly approaching disaster must be framed as a positive story in order to get people's attention - which is a bit like finding something cheerful about being on the Titanic. No wonder President Obama doesn't wish to touch it - and even undermined the Climate Bill, assuring it of defeat. He's got a similar problem of not being willing to be the bearer of bad news in Afghanistan (that the so-called "war" is lost), where the President we thought we had elected would have taken the war money to fight climate change, instead of using it to kill Muslims. 

Tom Miller