Letters for May 20 

Readers sound off on JR Valrey, Oxytocin, marijuana testing, and the Obamas' dog.

"Agent Provocateur," Feature, 4/8

Ministries of Hate

During the eight years of the Bush administration when one would think that KPFA's progressive audience would expand, the station lost a third of its listeners. And under the ownership of Becky O'Malley, the Berkeley Daily Planet has seen advertisers avoid it like the plague. Why have two of our home-based outlets for news reportage fallen so dramatically? The revealing story in the Express on how the radio station has responded to the murder of four Oakland police officers, along with a repugnant op-ed in the Daily Planet, provides more than a little insight into why so many locals have concluded that KPFA and the Planet are twin Ministries of Hate.

That any radio news program would include a broadcaster such as JR Valrey would be most unlikely anywhere but on KPFA. Valrey is a close friend of Yusef Bey IV, who many believe planned the murder of Chauncey Bailey. Varley claims that Lovelle Mixon's killing of the four Oakland officers was well-deserved and that Mixon is a hero in Oakland's black community. That may be true among a few misguided African American youth, but the vast majority of Oakland's blacks — having to regularly deal with the horrific rate of young men murdering other black men — joined at the start of the Dellums administration along with Asians and whites in calling for a greater police force to protect law abiding Oakland citizenry from the city's burgeoning violent crime.

Echoing Varley's commentaries that the murdered police got what was coming to them was an almost incoherent op-ed reminiscent of an infantile rant in the Daily Planet by one Joseph Anderson. Indeed, Anderson opines that Mixon has already attained legendary status in Oakland and will be fondly remembered long after the fallen officers are forgotten.

This is not the first time KPFA and the Daily Planet have been the conduit of such vicious outbursts of bigotry and psychopathology. The host of Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein and the show's frequent producer, Barbara Lubin, are longtime pro-Palestinian propagandists who, along with other KPFA broadcasters, have alienated most of the East Bay's liberal/progressive Jews. Ditto the Daily Planet, where owner/editor Becky O'Malley is so incessantly bent on demonizing Israel that few advertisers consider placing ads in her poorly read paper. This began long before the economic downturn, starting in 2006 when the Planet printed an overtly anti-Semitic commentary by an Iranian that drew the criticism of prominent East Bay politicians such as Mayors Tom Bates and Jerry Brown. 

The Israeli and Jew-bashing reached such a crescendo at the Planet that local businessman John Gertz was moved to meticulously research and launch on-line a widely read web site, DPWatchDog.com, in which readers may find both O'Malley's obsession with Israel along with the Planet's frequent manifestations of journalistic malfeasance (its primary reporter quit because she says O'Malley censored quotes from those she didn't like, a staff member had a fawning ode to the Planet published by the paper, the primary advertiser's new book was reviewed by none other than the author himself, etc.). 

Although there are some local Jewish residents who loath Israel, the vast majority of Berkeley Jews — while sometimes critical of Israeli policy — by and large support its existence. Berkeley's population is about 20 percent Jewish and most now shun both KPFA and the Planet, which many have come to call "The Daily Palestinian."

Local potential listeners and readers are now once again angered by these ideological merchants of hatred who are have given left lunatic fringe demagogues like Valrey and Anderson free reign to rail against both the valiant police protectors of our community's safety as well as the world's only Jewish state.

Given precipitously declining listeners and readers, why do the likes of KPFA broadcasters and the Planet's owner/editor persist in promulgating such sickening screed, marginalizing themselves in the process? While they may justify it on the grounds of the First Amendment, people such as Dennis Bernstein and Barbara Lubin at KPFA and Planet publisher O'Malley can also chose not to air or print such trash. One can sum up the reason they do it: like Valrey and Anderson they, too, live to hate.

Dan Spitzer, Berkeley

Scum like Them

Scum like JR end up like most of the scum in Oakland = In jail or shot, either a la Fred Hampton o Huey Newton. His call is "Free'em all," that is, all of the black criminals.

Racist scum like JR not only celebrate the killing of cops but of anyone not black, even though they shoot each other in the streets; these are the same people that celebrated the aquital of O.J. Simpson and even Mumia Abu Jamal, the "great radical," celebrated the nomination of Barack Obama for the presidency just like the liar Collin Powell.Racism is their moving fuel.

These politics go well with the ripped-ass, politically correct, KPFAkers; they've been spewing these type of vomit for long time.

Antonio Trossero, San Leandro

A Call for Change

As a former OUSD teacher I have seen the suffering of many young black men like Lovelle Mixon. However, to place him in the same category as Nat Turner and Huey Newton is just plain wrong as the former was not ever working for the benefit of the community as were the latter two.

Certainly I, and I hope others, will see this recent violence as yet another wake-up call to give the Lovelle Mixons of the world a reason and an opportunity to change. I understand being anti-police and working for the removal of brutal cops, but to celebrate a death, in this case four, is to deny one's own humanity.

Diana Kurland, Oakland

"Priced to Move: Observe and Report and Goodbye Solo," Movies, 4/15

Mall Cops Are Real

While audiences loved Mall Cop and will likely line up to see the upcoming Observe and Report, starring Seth Rogan, real world contract security companies who serve malls see more fiction than fact in these comic portrayals. How does the reality of life as a retail security officer compare with what is depicted in these comedies? These movies provide some lighthearted fun and entertainment, but in no way personify the real world of mall security officers on the job. These hard-working, highly trained men and women are our country's first responders who have a wide range of skills — from the sensitivity to deal with lost children to the ability to respond to and effectively address law enforcement incidents. Security officers are often put in high-risk situations as they confront and detain criminals engaged in theft, trespassing, gang activity, and every other manner of unlawful behavior that occurs where thousands of consumers congregate on a daily basis.

Tom Walton, vice president, AlliedBarton Security Services

"Is the Downturn a Boost to the Public Schools?" Raising the Bar, 4/15

Don't Blame Prop 13

Mr. Youngdahl does raise a point that others have noted over the years concerning decisions about where to place one's children during economic downturns or flat public school expenditures. What concerns me is that Mr. Youngdahl blames Proposition 13 for the state of California's schools, while neglecting to mention the Serrano v. Priest court case that pre-dates Proposition 13 or the Serrano II decision, which effectively changed the funding mechanism for schools from local to state government. He also comments on the difficulty of raising parcel taxes due to the two-third's approval requirement. I believe raising taxes should be difficult. What Mr. Youngdahl failed to mention is that numerous school districts within Alameda County have been able to raise taxes. While he mentioned Alameda Unified's Measure H, he failed to mention their Measure A, or measures that passed in Oakland, San Leandro, and Berkeley.

Mr. Youngdahl may have some valid points in his column, however, by making statements without backup, disregarding crucial information, or limiting his examples, these points are missed.

Jim Haussener, Castro Valley

"The Chemistry of Commitment," Feature, 4/15

Suck on Oxytocin

I recently read your article on the "Chemistry of Commitment," and would like to correct you on one thing. Oxytocin CAN be bought. Naturopathic doctors are able to prescribe Oxytocin lozenges to patients. I am a graduate student doing my masters project on the transformative effects of Oxytocin, and currently have seven people taking one to two doses a week of this incredible hormone. 

I have done papers with much of the same information you offered in your article, utilizing Barash's The Myth of Monogamy, Moberg's The Oxytocin Factor, and Fisher's Why We Love. You are very right with all of your statements, but there is so much research showing that beyond the trust, generosity, and empathy, it can also play a role in cutting addictions, working with autistic individuals, and helping PTSD patients. 

I just wanted to let you know that it is available and that research is being done all over the place with it. Perhaps not so much with the lozenges, but it is showing signs of being incredibly promising.

Already my participants are having incredible experiences with it.

Jessica Franco, Oakland

"Breeder Heal Thyself," Opinion, 4/15

Adopt and Snip

While PETA wishes that the Obamas had taken the golden opportunity to set an example for our country by adopting a castoff dog from a shelter or breed rescue group, we're relieved to learn that Bo won't contribute to the glut of unwanted dogs, because he has already been neutered ("Breeder Heal Thyself," 4/15/09).

Each year, some 6 to 8 million animals end up in our country's shelters. About half of these animals — most of them just as healthy and sweet as Bo is — must be euthanized because there aren't enough good homes for them. Every dog and cat breeder shares the blame for this tragedy because every puppy or kitten they produce takes away a home — and a chance at life — from a needy shelter animal. As long as animals are dying for lack of homes, no breeding can be considered "responsible."

I encourage readers who are ready to pour their time, money, energy, and love into an animal to adopt from their local shelter or PetFinder.com, and to make sure their animals are fixed, as Bo is. If Americans vow to always do these two things — adopt and "snip" — together, yes we can end animal homelessness.

Daphna Nachminovitch, vice president, Cruelty Investigations Department, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

"What About Pesticides?" Letters, 4/15

Testing Buds Expands

Your cover story about the analytic chemistry lab serving the medical cannabis industry was an important scoop. 'Grats to David Downs and the EBE for playing it so prominently and giving it so much space. The outrage expressed by a letter writer was misplaced — the lab plans to test for pesticides as soon as it is feasible. They also plan to test for terpenes — aromatic compounds in the plant, some of which may influence its effects on the mind and body. As Dylan said, "Things should start to get interesting, right about now."

Fred Gardner, Alameda

Correction

There was a typo in our photo caption in "The Best Fests" (Summer Guide, May 13). The caption should read "Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival."

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