U.S. supporting a war crime

Israel's collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza is a war crime.

From air, sea and on the ground, Israel has bombed hospitals, schools, homes, mosques, power plants, U.N. designated refugee shelters, and even children playing soccer on the beach.

To date, more than 1,900 people have died and thousands more have been wounded -- the vast majority civilians, and hundreds of those children.

There is no safe place in Gaza to escape Israel's merciless assault. The United States is now resupplying Israel with armaments in violation of its own law, the Leahy Amendment to the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, which states: "No assistance shall be furnished under the Act or the Arms Export Control Act to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights."

The United States must now comply with its own law and cut off aid to Israel until it ends its illegal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

David Glick

Berkeley

Glick is a member of Jewish Voice for peace.

Council failed local residents

I'm all for solar power and student scholarships, but I feel strongly that Doctors Medical Center, a community hospital that sees thousands of patients in its emergency room each year and saves many lives, should have funding priority over the pet projects of some members of the Richmond City Council.


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However, behind closed doors, the City Council decided that $90 million from Chevron should go to projects that do not include DMC, which has no funding source and is slated to close this September.

When the closure happens, the people of Richmond and the surrounding communities will lose the nearby hospital where doctors save heart attack victims, repair broken hips, and remove ruptured appendices.

When the hospital no longer exists and the doctors are gone, remember what the Richmond City Council failed to do.

Dr. Lorna Cogen

Berkeley

Carelessness with facts

In his recent column in the Times, Charles Krauthammer wrote that the conflict between Israel and Hamas presents a moment of rare moral clarity and claims the high ground for Prime Minister Netanyahu's position.

Given Krauthammer's carelessness with the facts, I believe he is in no position to give moral instruction to the American people.

The bare facts presented to us in the media need no intricate moral analysis for us to know that an atrocity is occurring. What the world is seeing in Gaza is a prison uprising. This is not just a metaphorical expression, but a true description of caged people being collectively punished by an overwhelmingly superior military power. The casualty numbers alone give the lie to Israeli claims of painstaking avoidance of civilian deaths and injuries.

Judge Richard Goldstone's detailed U.N. report on Israel's Cast Lead assault of 2012, detailing the destruction of homes, mosques, schools, hospitals, waterworks and other life-supporting facilities, clearly showed that Gazan people, not hidden weapons, were Israel's real target. That pattern is being repeated.

Today's observers don't have to rely on Krauthammer's fantastic modern history of Gaza. They can refer to the writings of well-informed persons such as Gideon Levy, Amira Hass and Sara Roy. The first two are staff writers for the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz who have had extensive experience in Gaza when Israel permitted its journalists to go there. Sara Roy is a Harvard scholar recognized as a major authority on Gaza who has documented Israel's deliberate cruelty of de-development that is making Gaza unliveable.

All of the writers mentioned are Jewish.

Larry Waldron

Berkeley

Thinking must be critical

I am referring to Thomas Sowell's Aug. 8 column in the Times, "Our nation seems to be entering the post-thinking era."

It appears Sowell is thinking that what happens to be his great skill is on its way out. His genius, you may have noticed, is his ability to use his reasoning mind to grasp and formulate the rationale for what he believes is true or right.

I certainly don't see any lack of this particular use of human intellect at this point in time. Although Sowell gets paid to do this, most of us are satisfied to rationalize without remuneration.

It has been said, and I wholeheartedly agree, that the intellect can be an excellent tool or servant but it makes for a terrible master. Believing everything one thinks is symptomatic of neurosis or psychosis, while habituation to patterns of thinking that rationalize whatever one is moved to believe retards one's growth and learning.

"Too little thinking" is far from being our problem, but rather not enough of it is critical and creative thinking in service to one's heartfelt intention of discovering true and lasting values and the ways of living up to them.

What is considered conventional wisdom warrants a great deal more critical evaluation rather than weak-minded adoption.

Ron Greenstein

El Cerrito

AB 1839 is a union bailout

Recently, several readers have written letters advocating support for California Assembly Bill 1839, which would provide even more "tax credits" to the California film industry.

These credits reduce the state income taxes of the film industry and are a form of corporate welfare. The writers of these letters, typically film industry union members, claim that without these tax credits film production will continue to migrate to other states.

A major reason film production is leaving the state is because the film unions have driven up production costs by excessively high wages and onerous work rules. Simply put, the film unions have priced themselves out of work and now they want the rest of us to bail them out.

The state will have to make up for any decrease in film industry taxes either by reducing state services, typically those that serve seniors, children, or the poor, or by tax increases.

Tell your state legislators to vote "No" on AB 1839 -- no bailouts for the unions, and no more corporate welfare for Hollywood.

Dick Patterson

El Cerrito

Possible better outcome?

If Chevron has lost money on its project to refine high sulfur crude oil, it's unfortunate, because the loss wouldn't have occurred had Chevron been up front in first applying for a new permit necessitating a new environmental impact report.

Instead, Chevron waged an aggressive publicity campaign supporting its "modernization" project, which led to Attorney General Kamala Harris calling Chevron out; the group Communities for a Better Environment suing the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for lax oversight of Chevron; and the Richmond Planning Commission and environmental activists demanding Chevron be more -- and perhaps excessively -- generous toward Richmond, as well as meeting legal mandates for emission control.

It probably won't happen, given the currently poisonous relations among the different parties, but a better outcome would probably have occurred through arbitration by an independent but qualified authority, instead of charges, countercharges, prejudicial name-calling by all participants and a rush to judgment by the Richmond City Council on July 29.

In the meantime, Richmond residents, and residents of nearby communities, continue to suffer the effects of refinery-generated pollution.

Ruby MacDonald

El Cerrito