In sight of cure AIDS funding is needed

Remember when AIDS was a definite death sentence and nothing could be done? We are in sight of the end of AIDS, an epidemic that has killed 30 million people.

The replenishment conference for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is held in the U.S. on Dec. 3. Donor nations will look to the U.S. for leadership. Congresswoman Barbara Lee has called for a U.S. pledge of $5 billion over three years. That means all the nations of the world would provide a total of $15 billion over three years.

As she said in a recent piece: The promise of an AIDS-free generation is within our grasp, but the world must come together to achieve it.

Some countries with the highest rates of new HIV infections have seen dramatic cuts since 2001 -- 73 percent in Malawi, 71 percent in Botswana, 58 percent in Zambia, 41 percent in South Africa.

TB mortality has decreased significantly, and success rates climb.

As for malaria, the world has seen an impressive reduction of deaths due to insecticide-treated bed nets. However, the reduction has not been maintained when the nets were not replaced.

If we do not maintain momentum of treatment and research, infection rates on all three diseases will go back up and the cost to control resurgence may not be affordable.

Please urge your member of Congress to support $5 billion over three years as the fair share for the U.S. in this December's Global Fund Donor Replenishment conference.

Sue Oehser

Oakland

Automation is real problem of our age

Automation is the upcoming problem of this and the next generation.

Not too many years ago, we all worked building the necessities of life: eight hours a day, 40 hours per five-day workweek, two-day weekend.

Most jobs required many workers. Employment was plentiful. Work was a guaranteed lifestyle. We all built the products that sustained our lifestyle. We bought the necessities of life. They lasted a short period of time, and we replaced them as necessary.

That was yesteryear.

Automation, technology and longevity has made many changes in our life. We have so much more stuff that lasts much longer. For example: Cars that lasted about 60,000 miles have been replaced with cars that now last 200,000 miles or more. A $3,000 car now costs $30,000. This is the reason we hang on to them for 10 or more years.

It used to take many car builders to build the cars. Now, because of automation, it takes fewer people on a typical assembly line.

Many of our products are made in other countries. A major reason for the increase is unemployment in the USA.

Immigration is another reason for the population increase. Our lifestyle supersedes most other countries' throughout the world. Other countries turn on their televisions, they see how we live. Within a short period of time, they migrate into the U.S.

An old saying goes: The way you make your bed, that's the way you will sleep in it.

We made our bed, now we have to sleep in it.

Arnold Corbett

Fremont

Time to ban some rodeo practices

I'm a big fan of cultural diversity -- at least until it crosses the line into animal abuse. California banned the Mexican rodeo's horse tripping event in 1994.

An even more brutal charreada event, steer tailing, has remained out of the public eye, though it's practiced throughout the state. Cesar Chavez himself opposed this cruelty.

Picture this: A mounted cowboy grabs a running steer by the tail, wraps the tail around his leg, then rides his horse off at an angle, slamming the hapless steer to the ground.

Bruises and contusions are routine, tails sometimes stripped to the bone, even torn off. Horses may suffer broken legs when the steers run the wrong way. You can see this on YouTube videos. Some sport.

Steer tailing is not a standard ranching practice anywhere in the U.S., nor is it sanctioned by any American-style rodeo association. Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont, carried an unsuccessful bill to outlaw the practice back in 2002. It's time to try again.

Most legislators will decide in the coming weeks which bills to carry next session. Please contact your state rep now, urging them to introduce this humane legislation.

All may be written c/o The State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814. Here in the Bay Area, likely authors would be Sens. Loni Hancock, Ellen Corbett, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Leno, Leland Yee and Jim Beall.

Eric Mills

Coordinator Action For Animals Oakland

Shouldn't unfairly whip up outrage

This is regarding the Oct. 19 article with the headline: "$1,100 an hour? Part-time service at little agencies means big bucks and benefits for politicians."

I expect better thinking from professional editors and journalists. Let's at least have a more realistic calculation.

All these meetings also require reading and analyzing large volumes of technical materials, which can take many hours -- Environmental Impact Reports for proposed projects that are 2-3 inches thick, complex contracts to be approved, and agency staff reports containing technical research, analysis and recommendations on policy issues, as well as other time outside meetings.

It's not just the time you sit at the meeting itself. Look at the total hours required for the job, then do the math.

And look at whether individual board members are doing their homework. Some are diligent and well-informed. Others are just looking for a professional networking opportunity or a chance to throw contracts to connected friends, some status, or other perk. If there is evidence of corruption, report on that.

It may be that some board members should go, or some boards really are overcompensated -- but none are as overcompensated as this falsely simplistic math indicates.

The paper must stop with whipping up the unthinking outrage. It feeds a destructive kind of cynicism about needed government functions. It certainly doesn't serve the democratic process.

Valerie Winemiller

Oakland