Letters for the week of September 25-October 1, 2002 

How are label owners underdogs? Why does Caldicott lock her doors? What happened to Y2K meltdowns? When will people listen to reason?

It's who you know
As an avid fan of the East Bay music scene, and an appreciator of the Express' often-excellent coverage of it, I was perplexed by Katy St. Clair's story on the Pattern ("London Calling," September 4) in which they are described as "underdogs." As St. Clair points out, there are many talented and unconnected bands in the East Bay wallowing in obscurity. The Pattern's singer is the owner of Lookout Records (the multimillion-dollar label that was home to Green Day), and the guitarist works for Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label. I can't think of an independent band that is more connected. I agree with St. Clair that the Pattern doesn't suck, but in my opinion, there are oodles of bands in the Bay Area more deserving of attention. It seems to me that the Pattern is less a heartwarming tale of small-town boys do good and more another depressing case of "It's who you know."
Sasha Bokor, Oakland

Read the Constitution
It's unusual to have two errors in one short sentence, and have the errors permeate the whole article. However, you managed to do it in the second sentence in the top right-hand column on page 20 ("It's Later Than You Think," Sept. 4): "Although the [Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty -- CTBT] treaty remains unratified by the Senate, countries must abide by treaties they have signed as long as ratification is still possible."

First, the CTBT was submitted to the US Senate in September 1997 and was rejected October 13, 1999. This was during President Clinton's term. The vote was 48 in favor of ratification to 51 against, far below the two-thirds approval required by the Constitution. Not even a majority voted in favor of the CTBT.

Second, under the Constitution (Article II, Section 2), the United States is not bound by any unratified treaty. A treaty only becomes binding after the Senate approves it by a two-thirds majority. Typically, the administration that signed the treaty may attempt to conform to it until it is ratified, but a subsequent administration will decide on its own. For example, although Vice President Gore signed the Kyoto Protocol Treaty in 1997, the Clinton administration did not abide by its terms, and in fact never even submitted it to the Senate.

The error on the CTBT ratification continues throughout the article, later in the paragraph, for example: "Critics such as Caldicott say the Stockpile Stewardship & Management program gave the labs a way around the treaty's constraints ... " Also on page 21: "Kelley of Tri-Valley CARE points out that because the Test Ban Treaty was never ratified, the United States can change its policy at any minute." In fact, the CTBT was rejected, and US policy is not constrained or set by its terms.

You can fool some of the people all of the time with errors, but not this time. Kara Platoni and the Express -- you have an obligation to your readers to publish a correction.
Arlin Peters, Kensington

Editor's Note:
Although the Test Ban Treaty was indeed rejected by the Senate, neither the Clinton nor Bush administrations ever formally withdrew President Clinton's signature, and thus the treaty could still be ratified by the Senate. Consequently, both administrations have chosen to honor the treaty, although the writer is correct in noting that it is not technically binding. To escape this implied obligation, the Bush administration reportedly has considered withdrawing US approval for the Test Ban treaty, much as it did with Clinton's signature of the treaty to create an International Criminal Court.

Deterrence works
Nuclear disarmament will happen when Helen Caldicott gets rid of all her locks and doors.
Vincent Santiago, Castro Valley

Is it safe yet?
Let's not forget that a couple of years ago, Helen Caldicott was ringing the alarm bells over the Y2K computer virus, predicting nuclear meltdowns, accidental missile launches, and as many as a million deaths. She announced that she was heading for a bunker somewhere in the outback to try and ride out the catastrophe.

This woman is in a state of perpetual hysteria, and we should not be encouraging her.
Jerry Craig, Fairfax

Voices worth heeding
Thanks to Kara Platoni for her article on Helen Caldicott, the issues driving her, and the people inspired by her passion.

As the Bush administration pushes for war with Iraq and each day's news brings us more carnage and suffering from Palestine and Israel, it is worth remembering that there is only one nuclear weapons state in the Middle East. Israel possesses close to four hundred land-, sea-, and air-based nuclear weapons, according to recent estimates. By seeking to raise its nuclear umbrella over the world, lowering the nuclear threshold, and using Israel as a regional base, the Bush administration is putting our own country, Israel, and ultimately the entire planet at risk.

Former nuclear technician and recipient of the 2002 Nuclear-Free Future Award for Resistance Mordechai Vanunu shares Helen Caldicott's fervor for nuclear disarmament. In 1986 he provided photographs and information about Israel's nuclear weapons program to the Sunday Times of London in an effort to stimulate discussion and an eventual end to nuclear weapons. On September 30, 1986, the Israeli intelligence service Mossad kidnapped him and he has remained in prison ever since, serving an eighteen-year term handed down at a closed trial, although people throughout the world, including Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Nobel Peace Prize laureates Professor Joseph Rotblat and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have called for his release.

Both Vanunu's and Caldicott's voices are ones we need to listen to in our quest for a just, peaceful, and thriving world.
Jeanie Shaterian, Berkeley


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