U.N. makes the idea of Palestinian state valid

The admission of a Palestinian state to United Nations membership is a welcome event because it is a step in the direction of self-determination for Palestinian-Arabs and counters Israeli denial in word and deed of the existence of a Palestinian nationality.

Golda Meir, the late prime minister of Israel, most famously expressed Israeli denial of Palestinian nationality, saying there was no such thing as a Palestinian (echoed recently by Newt Gingrich). Successive Israeli governments quite intentionally have made impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state by continually colonizing Palestinian territory.

Additionally, its membership in the United Nations may afford Palestinians a chance of finding justice before the International Criminal Court, something Israel may have reason to fear more than rockets from Gaza.

Israel's violations of international law and war crimes are legion, and a shortlist would include the continued occupation and colonization of the West Bank; the collective punishment of Gaza, including notorious operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Cloud; and a 400-mile-long wall isolating the inhabitants of the West Bank, held to be illegal by the international court.

Genuine peace requires recognition of realities and justice.

Larry Waldron

Berkeley


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Hostess Brands didn't adapt with times

Hostess Brands, which recently went out of business, had been in financial trouble for years.

Hostess is a perfect example of a company that was simply incapable of adapting to change and producing a product that suited the times.

For decades, the company stood by its traditional product line, which to many health-conscious consumers was absurdly out of step with contemporary health needs.

What modern mother would add a Hostess product to her child's lunchbox? And office workers, famous for their consumption of snack foods, invariably find a large assortment of "health" snacks readily available, even at a local convenience store.

It simply never occurred to Hostess to keep up with the times and that is why the company no longer exists.

A. J. Buttacavoli

Walnut Creek

Supervisors didn't do job on fire budget

The Dec. 7 letter from Ken Hambrick about Measure Q and ConFire was excellent.

I would like to add that the responsibility for the proposed fire station closures lies with the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors since the supervisors are also the governing board for ConFire.

If they had done their job for the past several years, ConFire would have lower payroll costs and, thus, be able to keep all its stations open.

Rather than cutting payroll costs, the board went ahead with Measure Q, which predictably lost.

The board now must find the funds to keep needed stations open.

Richard Nishkian

Walnut Creek

Smoking has dire consequences

We are Alameda Girl Scouts in Troops 30121 and 32143. Because of new local laws regarding smoking, we have been looking into cigarettes.

We have come up with some very unfortunate results. We would like to make people aware of the consequences of smoking.

The harmful chemicals found in battery acid, nail polish remover, rat poison and rocket fuel are also found in cigarette smoke. Also, every time someone drops a cigarette and it rains, that stuff enters our water supply.

Smoking is harmful to smokers and the people around them. This is called secondhand smoke. Sadly, secondhand smoke affects people who can't get away from it -- like children and babies.

In fact, 60 percent of people who get lung cancer have never smoked a day in their life. Smoking and secondhand smoke kill more than 400,000 Americans every year. We are proud and glad the government has addressed this issue by imposing laws restricting smoking in public places.

And by the way, while smoke hurts people, the smoker's wallet starts to hurt, too. A person who smokes half a pack a day spends approximately $947.19 a year just on cigarettes.

Emily Dougherty

Susan Hong

Elizabeth Legg

Alameda