Must stay out of Egypt's affairs

Amer Araim, in his July 14 commentary, "Coup in Egypt deals a blow to democracy in the Middle East," shows the typical ivory tower academic at work.

He says, "The military leaders in ... the Middle East, are becoming the major obstacle to democracy, harmony and prosperity." The only real democracy in the Middle East is Israel. Harmony? The word doesn't exist in the Muslim Middle East, as the Muslims hate each other as they hate the Jews. See Iraq.

Look at Gaza. Hamas was elected in 2006, and there have been no elections since. Similarly, if the Muslim Brotherhood retained power, it is dubious it would permit a second free and fair election.

To have a democracy entails vastly more than voting. It includes the meaningful infrastructure of freedoms of speech, religion, the press, a peaceful society, and human rights -- none of which essentially exist in the Muslim Middle East.

Mohammed Morsi was moving to turn Egypt into a theocracy, destroying the very democracy that elected him. We should stay out of Egypt's business.

Andrew Fine

Concord

The democratic process ignored

Something bad is happening in Rodeo.

The Rodeo Municipal Advisory Committee normally meets once a month. The next meeting's scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday. But it held a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. July 11 -- an hour when many working outside Rodeo won't be able to attend in time.


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Why? It's to hear and approve a refinery project, a blatant attempt to ram this project through without the community's input. Very little has been said at previous RMAC meetings about the project.

RMAC's agenda for the July 11 meeting indicated they will approve the refinery project, despite the fact many Rodeo residents are up in arms against the project.

Federal Glover, our county supervisor, may think this is a good thing. However, any Rodeo resident can tell him the refinery's noise level increases significantly whenever the refinery expands or changes anything. Also, we have no idea about the potential for more toxic elements in the air since refinery representatives haven't been forthcoming on this issue.

RMAC caters to the refinery, a bad neighbor, whose best interests are at odds with the community.

This is not a democratic process. RMAC doesn't listen to the community and neither does Supervisor Glover.

Madelyn Morton

Rodeo

Centralized education failed

As far as I can tell from your editorial, "Myths fueling opposition to Common Core," the Times' support of Common Core seems to rest on little more than the fact that tea party groups hate it.

Your editorial doesn't mention one positive benefit, other than the vaguely worded hope our children will "learn how to think, explore, experiment and analyze." What type of concrete plan is this?

More than 30 years ago, Americans read about the decline of our educational process in "A Nation at Risk," a report of President Ronald Reagan's National Commission on Excellence in Education. In one famous line, this discussion of the failure of American education mentions that our schools are so bad, if they were imposed by an outside power it would be the equivalent of an act of war.

This was after we centralized education and largely moved it away from local controls. For all the elite sneering at memorization, our schools were turning out better students in one-room schoolhouses in the 1800s.

Today, our youths need modern skills such as keyboarding and managing technology, but they also need morals, math and literature.

Government control does not equal success. A one-size-fits-all approach is hardly the answer.

Catherine Lucas

Martinez

BART should just replace the strikers

Here is a telling quote from a July 12 article: "We will be prepared for the war that you all have launched on your workforce," Roxanne Sanchez, president of the local Service Employees International Union, told the board. Unless the agency changes its stance at the negotiation table, she said, "We will be prepared for the bloodiest, longest strike since the 1970s."

It is clear this union revels in its power to hold the Bay Area hostage.

Please let's stop negotiating with terrorists. Let's pass a law that prevents taxpayer-supported public goods (no viable commercial competition) from being unionized. And start hiring and training permanent replacement workers now.

There are many people here who would be thrilled to work under the terms offered by BART management.

Russell Fochler

Castro Valley