Letters for May 1, 2008

Letter of the week
Competition and sport

On Wednesday, April 9, I was there in San Francisco to cheer on the Olympic torch relay. It was the only scheduled stop in North America to celebrate the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. While waiting for the flame, I took videos of noisy but peaceful confrontations by protesters screaming back at me. Both pro-freedom Tibet protesters and pro-Olympics China supporters taunted, even wrapped, the other with their flags and banners. Having witnessed this history-making event, my adrenaline is still up!

Riding in a convoy of buses, 500 supporters of the Olympic Torch Relay traveled from the Sacramento Valley to San Francisco. A fourth-generation San Franciscan Chinese, I proudly support the Olympic torch. I chose to wear a sash with the five official animal mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

A fellow bus traveler warned me, “You make an easy target.” I did not have another sighting of these animals. Right off the bus, we were swarmed by the multicolored flag of Tibet and the red flag with yellow stars of China. Numerous demonstrators also marched for whatever cause was out there.

So, for the safety of the torch runners, the route was unexpectedly moved two miles away to the Marina District neighborhood, past a small crowd without a political point to shout.

Mayor Gavin Newsom did the right thing for his city. No torch bearers were hurt, and the right to free speech was maintained. We missed the Olympic flame … but not the flames that fan the Olympic Games.

By 3 p.m., hours after the opening ceremonies, the torch runners had never reached us at the Embarcadero. Thousands still waiting at Justin Herman Plaza were confused that the closing ceremonies were canceled. Pressed up against the remaining crowds behind the barricades, the Chinese lion went ahead with its performance.

Given San Francisco Chinatown’s historic connection to China, the lion dance would have been the proper tradition to welcome and close the Olympic Torch Relay. Instead of a formal closing ceremony, the lion was surrounded by loud shouts and clashing flags.

Where is the goodwill spirit of the Olympics? Was it lost in a competition in an Olympics pre-game match between Team China and Team Tibet? Both claimed victory.

Elizabeth Xiu Wong

The conversation, part zero

Re “The conversation, part II” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, April 24):

Please, why are we still talking about Kevin Johnson’s sex life (or lack thereof) and not about Sac High and Oak Park redevelopment? I’ve seen billows of media smoke, but no fire (i.e., violence). Please don’t tell me Bites has swallowed the red herring.

Can we all just move on, grow up and talk about K.J.’s track record on issues that are more likely to actually affect Sacramento as a whole?

Muriel Strand

Editor’s note: Muriel Strand is a candidate for mayor.

Just sayin’ about salmon

Re “Watered down” by Dan Bacher (SN&R Frontlines, April 24):

Alaska chinook salmon is right behind California, except our draggers (large Seattle-based commercial fishing companies) want to throw overboard as dead by-catch another 150,000 chinook a year. That’s up from the already 200,000 that they record!

In 1999–2000, dragging and long-lining was halted in the North Pacific while the National Marine Fisheries Service tried to figure out what happened to the sea lion population, which had gone from a high of 250,000 to 25,000 in just 20 years. As a result, from 2000–2005, we saw the biggest chinook salmon return to the West Coast for as long as anyone can remember.

Now, it is dropping again. Go figure! It’s only a matter of time. Check out this Web site: www.npfmc.com.

Gregg Parsley
Naukati Bay, AK

Another ‘green’ wedding idea

Re “Something green, something new” (SN&R Ask a Treehugger, April 24):

Other ways to “green” your wedding: Register for charity using San Francisco-based nonprofit JustGive.org. Couples create a unique registry page, choosing from more than 1 million charities. JustGive.org will send an e-mail notification to friends and family and help the couple track what contributions have been made. Couples can also make a donation to their favorite charity in lieu of favors. JustGive will e-mail the couple a personalized PDF file to print table cards.

Sarah Myers
San Francisco

More genocide

Re “Never forget” by Kimberly Horg-Webb (SN&R Essay, April 24):

Give me a break with the Armenians. You and everyone else forgot the Boer War and the concentration camps—that’s right, concentration camps—the brave English had. You also forgot the massacres of innocent Indian civilians that the English did all over India.

Honie Brown
New York City

Iran’s next, if McCain’s in

Re “Targeting Iran” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, April 17):

Kudos to R.V. Scheide for a fine article about Scott Ritter, and to Ritter for admitting: “The global war on terror is one of the biggest frauds perpetrated in history.” That’s the “false flag” the Bush administration—with help from the Democrats in Congress—is hiding behind as they rob us of our civil liberties and protections against unwarranted search and seizure.

Attacking Iraq and Iran is part of that fraud. For the neocon string pullers, U.S. military attacks on the two were always conjoined. The only question: Would the U.S. military get to Tehran through Baghdad or to Baghdad through Tehran?

Scott Ritter’s projection that Iran will be attacked under Bush may need updating. Bush’s neocons are pulling Senator McCain’s strings. And some lobby is pulling Senator Clinton’s. As president, either will be gung-ho to attack Iran.

The CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate trashed the Bush administration’s propaganda about Iran having a nuclear-weapons program. The updated propaganda: Iran is arming insurgents who kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

The adage says: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Will we let ourselves be fooled this second time?

Brigitte Jaensch
via e-mail

Cutting commentary

Re “Cut to the truth” by Keleigh Friedrich (SN&R Higher Ground, April 17):

I want to commend SN&R for its coverage of cutting and self-harm among teenagers. As a psychotherapist working with teens for the past 11 years, I believe this problem is near epidemic. When I worked as a child and adolescent crisis-intervention counselor, a large number of teens I saw had engaged in cutting or other forms of self-harm. Many school administrators and counselors reported that the problem was rampant.

I appreciate Rabbi Alfi’s perspective and her willingness to speak out on the issue. Yet I believe the phenomenon of cutting and self-mutilation goes far deeper than “a very private way of rebelling.” Teens who engage in cutting are in severe emotional pain. All too often, that pain is rooted in physical, sexual or emotional abuse or some other trauma.

Over the years, I have heard many teens say they cut themselves because the physical pain was easier to take than the emotional pain. Some teens cut so they can feel something, anything, after physical, sexual or emotional abuse has left them numb. And, as Rabbi Alfi said, some teens cut or self-mutilate because it gives them a sense of control in a world that seems frighteningly out of control.

As noted in the article, cutting and self-harm can also become compulsive behaviors. Many teens have told me how difficult it is to stop. Many have reported that once they have stopped, they are afraid to start again, despite the ongoing urge, because they fear they may not be able to stop again. It’s also worth noting that while cutting is most common among adolescent girls, teen boys also cut or self-mutilate for the same reasons.

I agree, as the article stated, that spiritual interventions can be an important part of healing. But in most cases, teens who cut or self-mutilate need psychological counseling and often family intervention, so they can find healthier ways to manage, express and heal their emotional pain and gain a real sense of control and mastery over their lives.

Ken Siegmann licensed marriage and family therapist
Citrus Heights

Watching the inspectors

Re “Kitchen confidential” by Kate Washington (SN&R Dish, April 17):

After reading Kate Washington’s glowing review of New Lai Wah, I looked forward with relish (despite its incongruity with Chinese food) to a meal there. Then quite by accident, I found a [county] Environmental Management restaurant inspection summary that reveals a spotty record for New Lai Wah.

It might be prudent in future to examine this aspect of a restaurant’s performance before committing to a review, especially one full of praises for “freshness.”

Joel Kugelmass

Bravo, Hightower!

Re “Upstream battle” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, April 10):

I live in Washington state, and I used to listen to a right-wing talk-show station here in town. Jim Hightower had a small spot on this station where he’d get to talk about whatever was getting him fired up about our government.

One day, and this was before the Dan Rather story, Hightower goes on about George W. Bush not actually serving his country when he was in the Texas Air National Guard, talking about him skirting his duties and whatnot. The next day, they removed Hightower’s show and replaced it with a consumer-information show. So as any good Democrat, I quit listening to the show.

On occasion, I’d call to give them hell about whatever right-wing attack they’d make on anyone. But I enjoyed Hightower’s show while he was on, and I read his column in The Austin Chronicle.

Give ’em hell, Jim.

Eddie Perez
Centralia, Wash.

More homeless coverage

I appreciate the periodic coverage by SN&R of the homeless issue here in Sacramento. The homeless naturally reflect the humane level of ourselves, of our so-called civilization. We should see our homeless as domestic refugees, many of whom have fallen through the tattered social safety nets. The core set of problems related to homelessness involves raising their self-esteem, ongoing case management and community education, including educating the public in general.

Peter S. Lopez