Letters for June 18 

Readers sound off on the Alameda Theater, Mario Juarez, John Yoo, global hunger, Oakland police, Pete Stark, and the mass dissemination of dumbness.

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While Chile's General Pinochet was confined by house arrest some two decades after he left office, and the Chilean laws of immunity for torturers were eventually lifted, this kind of solution is limited to a small circle of professionals. The rest of the public so far has been forced to be bystanders — a helpless and dangerous condition.

There is a way for a much larger general public to act. Thousands of UC graduates are frequently appealed to for funds for the university. Following the lead of a friend, I have just written the university to say that as long as John Yoo is employed there, I will not contribute funds.

Further, John Yoo ultimately is not very important in this matter. There is a more important basic principle at issue. That principle is, that universities should not employ any people who have ordered, designed, carried out, or in any way implemented torture as public policy. This too is part of my letter — insistence that the university actively adopt such a limit on hiring.

It is important to consider insisting on such a policy now, because many professionals have been involved in US torture in one way or another — especially psychologists and other clinicians, as well as lawyers. In their anticipation of the end of the Bush administration, any number may seek academic positions as a hedge against the official policy coming to an end. The names of many of them, with résumés, can be found in professional sources, in news articles, and elsewhere. Are they coming to a neighborhood near you?

The University of California has put itself now in a weakened position in the competition for money in a bad economy. UC graduates — and graduates of colleges and universities across the country — have other places to contribute funds. For instance, to public schools and hospitals starved for money and lacking the federal support of universities. Or if graduates need to contribute to nonprofit organizations for tax purposes, a more direct way to deal with torture is to give to any of the 25 torture treatment centers in the US (there are four in California, including Survivors International in San Francisco, and the Center for Survivors of Torture in San Jose).

Gerald Gray, Campbell

Miscellaneous Letters

How You Can Stop Global Hunger

It's been the leading story in major newspapers and TV news programs. More than 100 million people are being driven deeper into poverty by a "silent tsunami" of rising food prices, according to World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran. A dozen countries have experienced food riots and strikes.

Prices for basic food staples such as rice, wheat, corn, and soybeans have skyrocketed in recent months. They are driven by rising fuel and fertilizer prices, diversion of corn to produce biofuels, drought in key food-producing countries, soil depletion through overgrazing, and growing demand for meat in China and other developing nations.

The resulting hunger afflicts nearly one billion people, mostly women and children. It kills an astonishing 24,000 per day. It's not just a problem for strangers in faraway lands. It affects millions of Americans, and some US stores are already rationing food.

The good news is that even a small shift toward a plant-based diet in the US and other developed countries would free up enough land, water, and fuel to feed everyone. More than 80 percent of US agricultural land grows animal feed. A plant-based diet requires only 16-20 percent of the resources of the standard American diet.

Every one of us can start abating the scourge of world hunger today by reducing our consumption of meat and other animal products and by supporting food distribution agencies. For more information, see TheHungerSite.org.

Evan Teller, Emeryville

Oakland Endures

I'm an independent and interested reader of the East Bay Express. I am particularly interested to read Robert Gammon's articles. What Robert is doing in vital to the community. He has, I'm confident, a good factual basis for uncovering perceived misdeeds and/or potential misdeeds. Regarding the political landscape, there will be no lack of subject matter for him to investigate. The populace seems to get what they deserve without many substantial candidates coming forward. So yes I'm interested in what he's finding and writing about.

This is one of the checks and balances left for what we call our version of democracy. As a former Oaklander, I still follow what is and what is not happening to one of America's finest cities. The leadership lacks but charm of Oakland endures.

My best to Robert!

Rob Sorensen, Newark

Who Needs More Cops If They Won't Do Their Jobs?

I am a disabled resident of Oakland who just encountered being a victim of Oakland's rising crime spree. I was hit in an auto accident, then shot at in their attempt to rob us. After running for my life and finding safety on an AC bus, the Oakland police that I encountered took my experience as a joke. So much so that I was never mentioned in the report. The report states: Non Injury Car accident — w/ Brandishing of a firearm.

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