"Stopping a Climate Change and Pollution Nightmare in the East Bay" by Will Parrish, Feature Story, June 29:
Industrial Living Will Destroy Life
Will Parrish did an excellent job showing the severe harms that tar sands oil does to our climate and would do to Bay Area communities. However, he neglected to mention probably the most severe harm of all: extraction. The Alberta, Canada, tar sands project is destroying a forest the size of Florida, for example.
Industrial society is waging war against the Earth. Extracting, refining, and burning oil kills many species and sometimes even humans. We must start moving toward living a lot more simply and naturally, which at some point soon means giving up driving. Industrial society has been around for hundreds of years and is not going to disappear tomorrow. But if we don't make efforts to stop living this way by taking whatever steps we can today — for example, instead of driving, walk, bike, and take public transit — industrial living will destroy life as we know it on our planet.
Jeff Hoffman, Berkeley
"How the Oakland Police Department Worked to Cover-Up Sex Crimes and a Home Invasion Committed by Cops" by Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston, News, June 29:
Needs to be Better
We need better training and selecting for promotion sergeants and above brass in Oakland Police Department. We also need better-qualified politicians who carry the ultimate authority for what OPD does.
Hobart Johnson, East Oakland
OPD Must be Miserable and Frightening
If you read the federal monitor's reports through the years, you will find numerous criticisms of Oakland Police Department's internal affairs, and its poor and biased work product. For years, I have referred to IA as a civilian-complaint laundromat. And as to internal investigations, an "Officer Justification Unit." And it has been apparent to me for some time that, for the entire term of the negotiated settlement agreement, rank-and-file officers have resisted complying with the NSA's edicts and reforms.
Now, we know that resistance extends also to supervisors and high-ranking management of the department. Worse, the forms of resistance go well beyond the handling of internal investigations and civilian's complaints against officers: to how OPD officers and supervisors investigate crime (they don't like you, or the crime you are reporting, they do nothing or do a cover-up) to opposing or undermining the city's public-safety policies (e.g., the war on sex trafficking). A large swath of OPD officers and supervisors obviously have no intention of ever operating in accord with the NSA's terms or the numerous OPD policies and rules re-written for compliance with the NSA. Their collective conduct goes beyond resistance to defiance of the NSA process and the federal court's authority. That long-term employees and supervisors have been involved in misconduct or cover-up's and schemes to prevent discipline of officers who engage in misconduct means the problem won't be fixed, as some suggest, by a receivership for screening, training, and hiring only. OPD remains a broken, law-breaking organization — and must be a miserable if not frightening place to work for (particularly) female officers and officers who try their best to follow the rules.
Mary Vail, Oakland
It's All Flawed
It's not about bad apples. To paraphrase Philip Zimbardo in The Lucifer Effect, the barrel is bad. I don't just mean the Oakland Police Department barrel. I mean the entire system of policing in this country is flawed and needs to be completely reworked.
"Boxing Night at 16th Street Station in West Oakland" by Pendarvis Harshaw, Culture Spy, June 21:
Boxing Not Cool
Really, Oakland! The hip-hop revitalization of West Oakland is way cool, but boxing? This cruel pastime of slaveowners showing off their prized, brawny breeds! Get real!
OK, I understand making it our own. But is boxing the legacy we want to hold up as our heritage? I think not.
Long live Mohammed Ali! Put boxing to rest in the history books.
Diane Scott, El Sobrante