Refugee issue not resolved

Larry Waldron, whose letter was published in the March 29 Voice, is correct that "Arabs are not welcome."

Just in the "Arabic" portion of the world alone, i.e., the Middle East, there live nearly 1.5 billion professed Arabs.

With a bit over 8,000 square miles, Israel, indeed, does not welcome Arabs. As for our Palestinian sisters and brothers, there are more than 2 million of them living in Israel as citizens. While we are on the subject of "welcomeness," let's quickly look at how well Jewish sisters and brothers are welcomed in the Arab world.

Does Waldron even know how many square miles we are talking about here? And, what of the "huge" Jewish citizenship in these regions? A quick check: Algeria, zero; Libya, zero; Syria, 100; Iraq, 100; Lebanon, 100; Morocco, 5,000. But that's not the whole story. These are numbers circa now.

What was it like in 1948? Algeria, 140,000; Libya, 38,000; Tunisia, 100,000; Yemen, 50,000; Morocco, 260,000.

Indeed, the refugee problem has yet to be resolved.

Michael Solarz

Berkeley

Evolution is a fantasy

Jayne Thomas, in her March 29 letter, "Evolution is not a 'viewpoint'," is right in insisting evolution isn't a viewpoint.

The fantasy, not theory, of evolution supposedly works by survival of the fittest. Fittest for what? Fittest to survive? So evolution merely asserts that those who survive, survive.

My friend, God, nearly laughed his head off when he heard that one.

Raphael Sealey

Berkeley

Truly free from cigarettes

I was trapped in a two-pack-a-day smoking habit for many years.

Cigarettes were essential to all my activities. I couldn't have a cup of coffee or start the car without one.

Then in 1974, I saw an advertisement in the newspaper for an organization called "SmokEnders." The meeting happened to be on my way home from work. One turn went home and the other headed for the meeting. It was a 50-50 choice, but mindlessly, I took the meeting exit.

It was a program of many weeks. I obeyed the rules, but still smoked as much as possible. When quit day came, though, I did what they told me and stopped smoking for good.

The group leader warned us that the most dangerous times to fall off the smoker's wagon were happy times, such as parties or meeting old friends.

Now, I don't miss smoking one bit. Yes, one can be truly free from cigarettes. Furthermore, coffee is great without them.

Harriet Jones

Berkeley

Human-caused warming is real

A young lifeguard, who is anxious about his mom's house, asked me how fast oceans will rise. I heard six feet by 2100 on KPFA radio.

Science, the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, printed a short article making it clear global warming (dirty words to industry and industry-owned media) is real and caused by humans.

Some countries now do a great deal to slow (often-huge) carbon production. So why won't U.S. industry wake from its trance and act sanely?

Do you think they have no plans? Are they planning for a future where they no longer wield vast power? Are they secretly planning to live, survive and dominate through severe hard times, no matter what?

Do you think they plan to take the rest of us along with them? Would you if you could?

Terry Cochrell

Berkeley

Favors lighted crosswalks

This is regarding an April 3 letter in the Times by Elaine Hannah of Pleasant Hill, "Crosswalk indicative of much larger issue."

Yes, lighted crosswalks are new and the nice thing about them is they work. Pedestrians can actually cross because the lights stop the cars.

Hannah seems to think lighted crosswalks are not only a waste of money, but a sign of government that somehow forces drivers to give up personal responsibility of stopping at crosswalks for pedestrians. If all drivers took that "responsibility" seriously, that might be true. Unfortunately, they don't.

I'm assuming Hannah has never tried to cross the street in crosswalks. If she had, she would understand the frustration and time wasted in simply trying to cross the street.

Yes, lighted crosswalks cost more than painted lines, but they work and we need more of them.

Geraldine N. Judt

El Cerrito

Rebuttal to Will column

I am referring to the April 4 column by George Will, "Schools are serving portions of propaganda as pedagogy," printed in the April 4 Times.

Champions of the privileged, such as Will, keep trying to justify desertion of K-12 public schools by parents who can afford private schools but resent paying taxes to support public schools needed by everyone else.

In his column, Will cited (Milton and Rose) Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice data indicating that since 1950 public school students increased 96 percent but teachers increased 252 percent and other staff ("bureaucrats ... and other nonteachers") increased 702 percent.

Will insinuated that this bloating of the public education payroll has increased the cost, but not the effectiveness, of our public education system.

In rebuttal:

  • Salaries of "other staff" form only a small part of this cost (about 8 percent of the budget of a well-run school district and as much as 20 percent of the budget of a poorly run district).

  • In part, the salary increases reflect entrance into the public school system, beginning in 1975, of children with disabilities needing more costly "special education." They had previously been shamefully barred from public schools.

    Ruby MacDonald

    El Cerrito

    Pensions and tax shelters

    Public pensions keep the wealth with the 99 percent and should be defended vigorously.

    A recent Times article about tax shelters confirms the wealthy are not invested in their country, only themselves. If all this wealth were kept in America, we could fund many of the programs we depend on for a civilized and just society.

    Long ago, corporations offered defined benefits. They rescinded them after calculating how much more they could profit without them.

    Shame on Daniel Borenstein for relentlessly attacking the little guy and ignoring the real threat.

    Wendy Brubaker

    Richmond