Website lists cosmetic hazards

As a modern female consumer, I've used my share of cosmetics and am aghast when I realize just how many dangerous ingredients are in the makeup, lotions and so on that I use, as discussed in your recent editorial.

Correctly stated, L'Oreal blithely inserts lead, up to 70 times the amount allowable for candy, in my favorite lipstick. This lead is ingested inadvertently when eating, drinking or anxiously biting our lips.

I am very concerned about these findings. Could I be poisoned by these cosmetics used for vanity's sake? "Going green" matters not just for the food we eat, but everything we touch or that touches us.

The Environmental Working Group's site addresses many of these important issues and one can search their "cosmetics database" of more than 78,000 products that describes ingredients used and how safe or dangerous each ingredient in the product is. Its site is www.ewg.org. Armed with this information, we can hope to make ourselves a little safer.

Marlene Altman

Benicia

Puppet masters in charge of GOP

The problem is not the tea party. Don't get me wrong, I disagree with nearly all of its positions. But the few who have been elected are wildly popular in their gerrymandered districts. They should be heard.


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In normal times, this minority splinter group of Republicans would be a footnote in history -- filed under kooks, like Fred Koch, a founder of the John Birch Society and father of the Koch brothers.

However, the Koch brothers and a handful of like-minded other billionaires, with their practice of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on primary elections to replace any Republican who doesn't toe the tea-party line, have a stranglehold on Congress. And not only did the Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United make it legal to do this, they let them do it in secret.

By defeating incumbent Republicans in primaries, the message is clear: "If you want to stay in office, don't cross us."

Without this threat, there would have been no shutdown, no threat of default. Mainstream Republicans and Democrats would have joined to keep the government running, as they did in the end.

This is not democracy.

John Bursch

Martinez

Strike narrative was incomplete

I am referring to the Times front-page article, "Trains back on track."

As fortunate as we are to have BART running again, there is still a lot missing from the story. Although BART workers are resolute that this was a fight for all blue-collar workers with something to lose, that narrative was lost in the disputes and the long-lasting impact may be disastrous for labor unions.

Media outlets reported the details of the offers and the counteroffers, but beyond negotiations of salaries, pensions and health care plan, there was no sense of "why."

BART, the unions and journalists didn't frame the conflict as a power conflict between public servants and the wealthy management team. They did not highlight the inequalities, the health concerns, or the unfairness of the system. This issue goes beyond the pay, which was unfortunately not emphasized enough.

The unions are strong, but support from their community would have put more pressure on management, whereas this entire drama left the end-users with a bad taste in their mouth and management appearing like tired, resilient parents.

Nancy Pham

Berkeley

Tea party folks are being vilified

The organized vilification of the tea party and Sen. Ted Cruz would be laughable if it weren't so serious.

The tea (taxed enough already) party folks are opposed to even higher taxation, to huge deficits that threaten to bankrupt our nation and economy, to government incompetence and corruption in almost everything it touches and, yes, to Obamacare, which is being rammed down America's throat even though polls have consistently shown the majority of Americans oppose it.

The media ignore that President Barack Obama and the Democrats' deficit spending is what hurts our credit rating, not the Congress trying to rein it in. It was Obama who shut down parts of the government and closed national parks, etc., to hurt the citizens, not the Congress or the tea party. Yet, like Pravda, most in the media obediently blame those trying to be responsible rather than the current president and the Democratic Senate.

A government that can't create or follow a budget, or even run a post office, is already proving that it should not be trusted to control our nation's health care.

Pete Laurence

Clayton