Letters for December 22, 2011

Hero or hypocrite?

Re “Hooked on a cause” (Cover story, by Tom Gascoyne, Dec. 15): What a well-done, genuine-sounding story about a great man! If only the reform activists battling the family law industrialists, or the UFW, had a fighter as passionate ….

With so many good causes truly needing people as spirited as Mr. Meagher, one can only hope that we have more like him in the wings of these most difficult times. I’d love to pop by Duffy’s someday and crack a cold one with that good man.

Great report! Thanks again, CN&R!!

Alan Ernesto Phillips
Board Chairman

Northern Hispanic Latino Coalition

Although I left Chico in 1988 to pursue a teaching career, when I think of my good times in Chico, Kelly Meager comes to mind.

He was then and seems now one of the nicest, most generous and conscientious people I know. And though I haven’t seen him since my departure, it sounds like he hasn’t changed one bit.

Philip Borge

Does no one see the hypocrisy of Kelly Meagher living in Butte Creek Canyon (sprawl, long commute), near the creek (riparian zone), in an area that should be a wildlands preserve (degradation of prime wilderness), adjacent to an endangered run of salmon (sin)? All the while he is fully aware of the evils of anyone else wanting to live the same lifestyle?

Michael Jones

Faulty research

Re “The quandary of being Michael Jackson” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, Dec. 15): Professor Pinder: I have to say I feel embarrassed for you at this moment. I’m sure you have read voluminous material on racial issues, but it appears that you did not do the same in regard to Mr. Jackson.

Almost 20 years ago, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he told the world of his skin disease and progressive depigmentation due to vitiligo. Of course, that information was completely dismissed by the media, who gleefully spent years ridiculing the man and claiming he wanted “to be white.” Well, Mr. Jackson’s autopsy confirmed this condition, and the information is well documented online and easy to locate and research.

Also, Mr. Jackson endured a humiliating strip search and was photographed and videotaped, but that was in 1993 and not 2005.

I am not a professor, nor have I engaged in academic fields of study like you have. I am a physician, and I do my best to gather all information before I attempt to analyze someone.

Lauren Trainor
Huntington Beach

Appeal to conscience

Re “Surrendering our values” (Editorial, Dec. 8): When as a people we allow our government to pull anyone anywhere off the streets, hold them indefinitely (without charge and due process), submit them to torture, and all in the name of fighting terrorism, we have entered the abyss. And yet that is what the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act allows.

Who is a terrorist? Who decides who the terrorists are, and why are they the ones to decide? With this system in place, how would one get justice if a mistake was made? Why would our government have the power to reach—in any part of the world—and act in this way? Why would other governments allow this?

What if we were graced with someone, of such total awareness, to wake us from this world of war and greed? Would this individual be deemed a terrorist? Could this enlightened one be cast into detention, because the elite would be threatened by his message? Didn’t this happen 2,000 years ago?

For so many Americans, traits of generosity, fairness and compassion have lost their desirability. We now kowtow to media personalities who spew hate and division among us. And, sadly, those who have the least are blamed the most.

We are in our darkest hour. In government, we have no leaders of men—only oppressors.

Conscience, with action, must be our guide out of this abyss.

Nina Widlund

Dissing the chancellor

Re “My brush with Charles Reed.” (Guest comment, by Dave Waddell, Dec. 8): Thank you so much for this compelling story about CSU Chancellor Reed. Like many California Faculty Association colleagues, I am completely mystified about this man’s rise to power, given the fact that his track record clearly demonstrates zero support of faculty and student concerns.

Throughout his term, he has shown unflinching allegiance to top-level administrators while the faculty struggles to maintain high-quality teaching and students are faced with tuition increases every year.

Is there some process where he can be recalled or voted out, or do we have to tolerate this gross lack of fair leadership until he retires?

Something has to give.

Althea Waites
Long Beach

Home for holidays

Re “A soldier’s welcome” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Graham, Dec. 15): Thank you for covering the return of troops of the 649th Engineer Company of the California National Guard from Afghanistan. I was at the Dec. 9 event at the Guard’s Chico headquarters, and it was nice to see the children with signs, “Welcome Home Daddy,” etc.

This Christmas marks almost nine years since the war started in Iraq. President Obama made a promise that our military involvement in Iraq would end in 2011 and it has. After nine years it was time to take the training wheels off the Iraqi government. Hopefully, Afghanistan can do the same soon.

Thank you to all those who have reached out with support to military families.

Bob Mulholland

A simple proposition

Re “Medi-pot collective charges dropped” (Downstroke, Dec. 8): Good news for Mountainside Collective. [Assistant District Attorney Helen] Harberts states, “The public-safety risk of having a marijuana store has been abated. Justice has been served.” If that was their goal, why continue the prosecution?

It should always be pointed out these would-be heroes deprived thousands of chronically ill people of their holistic medical choice. A choice we the people voted on and our suppressors tell us we were too stupid to know what we voted for.

Proposition 215 was excellent in its simplicity: Create safe, affordable access for chronically ill patients based on what their physicians recommend. The DA and his accomplices in the judiciary routinely ignore and omit that it is to be left to physicians. This is so un-American as to border on dictatorship. I’m disgusted with the whole process. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Rick Tognoli
Director, Scripts Only Service


Don’t mess with CalPERS

Re “Reconsidering retirement” (Editorial, Dec. 15): By all means tweak the city’s retirement formulas through local negotiation. Tweak the retirement age, the percentage multiplier and the number of years of service. However, do not choose another retirement system, nor the oft-touted (by very wealthy and well-funded folks who masquerade as “taxpayer” groups) defined-contribution system of retirement. Such choices mean that all U.S. investments on behalf of middle-class Americans will be in the hands of mega-banks and investment “groups.”

CalPERS is the most consistently successful defined-benefit system in the United States. Corporate folks don’t like the CalPERS nose under their tent, no matter how much CalPERS investment will benefit their average investor/stockholder.

CalPERS doesn’t decide on benefits, formulas, etc. Elected leaders and managers in individual jurisdictions and “units” do. Mess with them. Don’t mess with constitutionally independent CalPERS because, for sure, the politicians and the special interests who often own them will get all of everybody’s money if we dilute CalPERS’ independence or start down the path of defined-contribution retirement systems.

Abe Baily

More spouting

Re “Spouting multiple falsehoods” (Guest comment, by Tamar Sternthal, Dec. 15): On June 8, 1967, Israel massacred 34 U.S. seamen on the USS Liberty. On the 31st of May, 2010, Israel assassinated a U.S. citizen on the MV Mavi Mamara. I’m curious how the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting views these incidents. Neither event can be characterized as a “falsehood.”

Caladonya Milwaukee

Thank you for correcting the incendiary comments made by passionate supporters of Palestinian statehood, including the “Chico grandmas.” Such exaggerations and fabrications are indicative of the high state of frustration after years of fruitless negotiation with Israel in pursuit of a peaceful resolution of the problem.

Many believe the intransigence of Israeli settlers in disputed territories and their continuous assaults on neighboring Palestinians are at the core of the tensions giving rise to these frustrations. If we truly wish to implement a two-state solution, it is vital that Israel first demonstrate an intention and ability to rein in the settlers and respect the rights of indigenous Palestinians.

Richard Mazzucchi
Los Molinos

Paralyzed, not dead

Re “Transforming Israel” (Letters, by Emily Alma, Dec. 15): I just had the opportunity to read Emily Alma’s letter, in which she takes you and your readers for fools by covering up Sandra O’Neill’s original fabrication (Letters, Nov. 10) with a lie of her own.

O’Neill had originally charged that two Palestinian children, 4 and 6, were allegedly “shot and killed by trigger-happy watchtower guards” because they were playing too close to the separation barrier. In an attempt to defend O’Neill, Alma falsely writes that 4-year-old Asil Arara was killed on Oct. 25. In fact, while gravely injured in unclear circumstances, Asil is thankfully alive.

Attempting to cover up for O’Neill’s fabrication, Alma pretends that an Al-Haq report states that a child was killed by the fence on Oct. 25. In fact, the report in question says no such thing. Everything that Alma quotes directly from the Al-Haq report, which she sets off with quotation marks, does in fact appear in the document. But she then fabricates, stating that the girl “died of her wounds in the hospital.” In fact, the Al-Haq report states: “Doctors found that her spinal cord had been severed at the fourth and fifth vertebrate as a result of her gunshot wound, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down.”

While Asil’s reported injury is horrific, it in no way substantiates O’Neill’s fabrication that two children were “shot and killed by trigger-happy watchtower guards.” Furthermore, the circumstances behind the girl’s injury are unclear, and it is not known that Israeli soldiers are responsible.

Likewise, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported with far more honesty than Alma demonstrated: “A young Palestinian girl was shot late Tuesday in an incident near Israel’s separation wall near the Anata district in occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian and Israeli officials said Wednesday. The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear. The family has blamed Israel’s army. But an Israeli military official denied involvement in the girl’s injury.”

Tamar Sternthal
Tel Aviv

Asil Arara was not actually killed. She was only shot in the neck by a sniper while playing. But why quibble?

Devaki Constantine
Dalton, Pa.

Reserved roads

Re “Whose facts are true?” (Letters, Dec. 8): In her letter, Sybil-Frances Kimbrig denies the truth of a Nov. 23 article written by Christine LaPado about two local grandmothers who visited Israel and Palestine. Ms. Kimbrig is the one who is uninformed.

Ms. Kimbrig writes: “In Israel there are no Jewish-only roads, buses, and there were no children killed by trigger-happy Israelis.” In fact there are many roads in Palestine that are reserved for Jews and internationals whom they trust.

In Hebron, in the Palestinian West Bank, the main road through the old city has been barred to Palestinians, except for school children and teachers who are going to and from school. Two mornings I stood and watched as school children passed the Israeli checkpoints, where Israeli soldiers with loaded M16s searched their school bags, apparently looking for bombs, and also searched teachers.

Once I spent the night on a Palestinian farm. There was a highway about 200 yards from their house, where cars traveled around 60 miles per hour, but the Israelis had put huge cement blocks across their driveway so they could not access the highway.

Remember These Children claims that, since September 2000, 1,470 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli weapons, the vast majority by Israeli soldiers. Over the same time period, 125 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians.

Ms. Kimbrig needs to learn the facts.

Sharon Fritsch