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Letters to the Editor 

Week of Wednesday, October 18, 2006

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Vacant Justice

Pity the lawyers: While Mr. Ryan's office is under a lot of scrutiny ["Untouchable" by Martin Kuz, Oct. 4], it should be noted that the U.S. Attorney's offices nationwide have suffered from tremendous losses of attorneys. Several news articles detailing the issues from Los Angeles to Chicago to Philadelphia have led Congressmen Waxman and Conyers to demand explanation from Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez.

According to the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, full-time vacancies in federal prosecutors' offices have jumped from fewer than 200 in 2004 to 765 as of May 2006. Undoubtedly, that number is even higher now.

The problem? The Department of Justice allocates money to the Executive Office of the United States Attorney and they in turn distribute it out to the offices throughout the United States, but for some reason, the offices "out in the field" are not getting the appropriate funds — thus, some of the best prosecutors in the United States have all left, since they are not receiving any real raises, putting them farther behind than their nongovernmental counterparts.

Very soon, the most important cases will be left to folks who either do not have the passion for the job anymore (aka "the burnouts") or to folks who just do not have the experience. Expect either a lot of huge cases going unprosecuted or getting dismissed because of mistakes.

The real victim is the public.

Deuce Bosworth

Sacramento

Fishing for Answers

Problem solved: I read in this story ["Lost at Sea" by Ron Russell, Oct. 11] that fishing boats such as the Relentless are required to carry transponders that signal their whereabouts to the Coast Guard so that it can be discerned if they are in restricted waters. Given the very valid concern and danger that the article discusses of the large tanker boats running over fishing vessels, wouldn't it make sense to require the supertankers and carrier boats to also carry similar transponders?

And would there be a way of keeping records of transponder data over time so that the tanker itself isn't left to police itself by being the only one with (written) records of its own travel path, and so that the Coast Guard would be able to record this path electronically? Then, if two transponder signals from different ships are found to coincide, there could be data proving a collision had taken place.

Deborah Mikuteit

Oakland

Clinton + Virgin

Sham philanthropy: I just read Matt Smith's column on the false promises made by Clinton and Branson [Oct. 11]. It was very insightful of Smith to not take the announcements at face value. However, I do believe you attributed the perpetrator incorrectly. Clinton does have political ambitions; however, I do believe he genuinely wants to make the world better and leave a strong legacy. Branson, on the other hand, has had decades' worth of false promises covered under the veil of philanthropy. Simply look at his U.K. lottery bid and the claims of his Virgin Group charity contributions in the past and how they were disputed by the British press. Branson is a ruthless corporate raider hiding behind the curtain of entrepreneurship, customer service, and philanthropy.

Ted [last name withheld]

Via e-mail

Beating the Fleet

Freedom rider: Large crowds give me anxiety attacks [The Apologist, Oct. 11]. The Marina is a district I never go near anyway, but this weekend, it was at the top of my hate list.

To avoid the epic mobs of the Broseph's and their children attending Fleet Week, my friends and I went on what I like to call the Critical Mitch — a bike ride with a bunch of kids from Dolores Park to Mitchell's Ice Cream store — and still the accosting noise of the Blue Angels was unavoidable.

My friend turned to me and declared the Blue Angels a gigantic waste of tax dollars. I mean honestly, how much gas is used when they are flying through the air, bumming people out? How much do the pilots get paid? I just think that glorifying a weapon that is used to kill hundreds of people by painting it blue and giving it some sort of biblical reference is ridiculous.

While riding through the Valencia traffic, I realized that it was a perfect day to be riding a bike. For me, on that day, it was a silent and subtle statement about my values and lifestyle. I took the Apologist quiz and scored in the realm of "intrusive distraction." Thanks for voicing my opinion. I just wish more people felt the same way.

Katherine Sue Ambellan

San Francisco

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    The San Francisco Street Food Festival was another success this year. Dozens of vendors with original, unheard-of creations, such as deep fried mac and cheese on a stick, black pea paste pancakes, and Korean quesadillas. Then there was the comfort foods we've grown accustomed to, like creme bruleé, shrimp rolls, and pound cake. Photographs by Mabel Jimenez.
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