Just say 'no' to 'blended rail'
Californians in 2008 voted for Prop 1A, "The Safe, Reliable High Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century."
"Blended rail" -- future high speed rail on Caltrain's tracks -- would be Neither safe Nor reliable. Caltrain platforms inches away from high speed rail trains; 43 grade crossings for vehicles and pedestrians -- these both greatly enhance the accident and train delay potential.
Far better, more safe and reliable, and much less costly: upgrade the Union Pacific Mulford route long used by Amtrak north from Santa Clara to a new BART/high speed rail station in Oakland where BART crosses overhead. And then plan five-county BART around the Bay, to the Golden Gate and Carquinez bridges, Brentwood and over the Altamont through Livermore. Let the voters decide, as they did for BART half a century ago.
Robert S. Allen
Livermore BART Director, District 5, 1974-1988 retired, Southern Pacific (now Union Pacific) Western Division, Engineering/Operations
Obama using Gestapo tactics with the press
The Obama Gestapo is coming! Actually it is already here. One of the most effective ways to control a nation by the Gestapo was to control the press. And it worked then!
It is also working now. Whenever Obama does not like what a reporter writes, he accuses him of espionage, a crime. Where is the press to report that?
When the "free press" starts asking too many questions, Obama (via Eric Holder) convenes an off-the-record meeting to explain -- in other words, silences the press. Where is the press to report that?
When Obama lies about the perpetrators of the Benghazi attack and murders (two weeks before elections), Obama stonewalls the subject. Where is the press to report that?
When Obama uses the IRS (another department of his Gestapo) to intimidate his opponents -- conservative groups, Obama (via Holder) stonewalls the subject. Don't be shocked. President Roosevelt used the IRS this way all the time. Where is the press to report that?
When Obama seizes AP communications, Obama (Holder) stonewalls the subject. Where is the press to report that?
I could go on and on, but this is a representative sample of Osama's Gestapo operations. Freedom of the press was put in the Constitution to keep the government honest. That amendment is still there. Where is the press to use it?
Protest plan to raise rates by EBMUD
The East Bay Municipal Utility District's 19 percent rate increase for water is in a one-year period, not "over two years" as falsely reported in their mailings and Denis Cuff's article ("Hike in water rates proposed; EBMUD asking for 19 percent increase over two years," May 16).
The first rate hike goes into effect on July 1; the next on July 1, 2014. That's 366 days, not two years. So in effect it is actually a 20 percent increase in a year and a day, according to EBMUD's mailing (average bill on June 30: $40.45; average bill on July 1, 2014: $48.60). The wastewater rate increase is 17 percent more over that same year-and-a-day period.
These are outrageous increases. The average consumers' incomes are stagnant, and to expect consumers to absorb these excessive cost increases into their family budgets is reprehensible. Especially when taking into consideration that we have no alternative to EBMUD's water and wastewater services.
Surely, maintenance and upgrading of facilities is no surprise. Any viable business plans for such things. EBMUD needs to find cost-cutting measures within their current budget to free up revenue for their projects. That is what the rest of us must do, and it is only reasonable to expect EBMUD to do the same.
You can make your voice heard whether you attended their Tuesday hearing or not. Write "I protest the water and wastewater rate increases" with your name and address (and account #) and mail it to: EBMUD, MS 218, P.O. Box 24055, Oakland, CA 94523-1055.
Brian W. Anderson
This is no way to fight a war
Our "war" on terrorism has been going on for almost 12 years. We have paid untold billions and sacrificed some of our finest young people in this effort. And while there have been successes, there are other areas we ignored completely. So what was accomplished?
Out government prohibits the use of the terms "Islam" and "terrorism" in the same sentence. Yet it is true that most of the terrorism (more than 75 percent) in the world is conducted by fundamentalist Muslims. Currently, you find Muslims attacking Buddhists in Thailand, Jews everywhere, Baha'is in Iran and Christians in Egypt, Iraq, the Philippines, Pakistan, Malaysia and elsewhere.
The idea of war is to make your enemies so afraid, so miserable, so defeated that they give up. In a war there are two sides, yours and theirs. There is no middle ground. You are either "fur us, or agin' us," as the saying goes. The idea of innocent civilians and collateral damage is a media construct that has no place in war. In World War II, civilian deaths outnumbered military by more than 2 to 1. The Germans, Japanese and Italians -- both their military and their people -- were defeated.
My point is this. We have artificially created barriers and limits on this so-called war. The Muslim religion can be one of beauty and peace, yet it is being perverted by many in their efforts to control others. We appease and pay off corrupt politicians is other countries to support us. We allow liberal media bias to influence how we have waged this war, as has been the case since Vietnam.
There is much left to do. But now that we are tired of it, we are setting a date that the war will end as we pull out of Afghanistan. Has the enemy been defeated? No. Does the threat of terror continue? Yes. Will we continue to pay tribute to others to ineffectually continue this "war?" You make the call. Sounds like we lost to me.
Group wrong on healthy sodium levels
As a cardiologist, I take issue with the recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on "healthy" levels of sodium. The American Heart Association strongly urges Americans to lower salt consumption from the current average of 3,400 milligrams a day to 1,500 a day.
Not only does the Institute of Medicine recommend reducing sodium consumption only to 2,300 milligrams a day, the institute failed to address sodium's direct link to high blood pressure. High blood pressure, which afflicts 67 million Americans, is called the "silent killer" for a reason. Thirty-five percent of heart attacks and strokes, 49 percent of heart failures and 24 percent of premature deaths have been blamed on high blood pressure.
The American Heart Association advocates educating consumers about the high levels of sodium present in the food supply -- especially processed food and restaurant meals. The Heart Association supports federal regulations that would limit the amount of sodium in foods -- ironically the primary strategy stated in a 2010 Institute of Medicine report, "Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States."
Dr. Matthew DeVane
Alamo president, East Bay board of directors, American Heart Association
Our leaders -- just where are their priorities?
I know this is a quaint, anachronistic notion, but I wish we had a president and Congress who would put America first.