Keystone pipeline must be stopped

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline must be stopped.

Tar sands pipelines spill three to four times more crude per mile of pipeline than those carrying conventional oil, according to a National Resources Defense Council study.

This is dangerous because conventional cleanup methods prove nearly useless on tar sands. That's why there's oil in the Kalamazoo River after a major 2010 spill and a $765 million cleanup. The new pipeline route still threatens the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies Nebraska 80 percent of its irrigation water.

In return, Americans get a scant 10,000 short-term manufacturing/construction jobs, and only 25 to 35 permanent jobs for operation. For energy independence: the oil will largely be sold abroad.

TransCanada, the foreign corporation proposing Keystone XL, has taken more than 100 American families to court, securing pipeline land through bogus eminent domain lawsuits and threats. Though President Barack Obama still must approve Keystone XL, TransCanada began construction.

Exercising public power is our last chance. The time for public comments ends Sunday. Please visit the Sierra Club's website and/or write urging that Keystone XL not be approved.

Lee Torres

Livermore

Oakland is green, but can improve


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Oakland has long been on the list of the greenest cities in the country, but what exactly does that mean? If you look at any of the criteria, such as energy upgrades, sustainable landscapes and locally grown food, Oakland goes above and beyond in every category.

Even with all of this, Oakland will not be truly sustainable until its residents take action in their own personal lives.

Easy tips for creating a sustainable environment in your own home include using compact fluorescent light bulbs, taking shorter showers, buying local produce and recycling. Most important, take advantage of the sustainable environments around you.

Recent studies show that walking or biking in a park does as much for your mental well-being as it does for your physical health.

So this Earth Day, get out there and enjoy the beautiful green spaces your city has to offer.

Thomas R. Tavella

President, American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C.

Study must focus on dementia prevention

Concerning the April 4 article, "Study: Cost of dementia expected to surge," the billions we have spent for the so-called "cost of dementia" has been primarily for cure or treatment, thus far benefiting our medical and pharmacological associations more than the patients.

One consistently overlooked answer to brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's, is prevention.

These many years of research in the U.S. have been a failure for families like mine. To my knowledge, at my age of 86, our family has lost eight persons to AD, three in my generation.

Currently, I have sent my information to our legislators, to the National Alzheimer's Plan, to the Alzheimer's Association and to AARP.

Although they have all asked for personal AD stories, they have unaccountably ignored my message, despite it being published on the Alzheimer's Research Forum, on PreventDisease.com, on Celiac.com and other media.

Computerized statistics can now provide discovery of causes and prevention of dementia.

Pathologies, injuries, genetics, environment will all be comparable issues if we finally establish a national/international registry, to record the earliest possible statistics on the histories of these many millions of dementia patients, and of families like mine.

Gerta Farber

Berkeley

'Zero Dark Thirty' asks if ends justify means

Two recent pieces in the Times on "Zero Dark Thirty" and government sanctioned "torture" sorely need some perspective.

To suggest this movie "erodes our society's values" is ridiculous. It's not clear that either author actually watched the film. If they had, they would not have said it fails to point out torture is profoundly destructive to those who engage in it.

It should have been clear that it neither glorifies torture nor does it directly suggest information revealed under torture was key in locating Osama bin Laden. Besides being extremely difficult to watch, the torture scenes clearly showed that the lead interrogator was degraded and dehumanized by his actions.

Far from a "suspense thriller" (everyone already knows bin Laden dies), the film indirectly asked the key question: Just how far should our society go in interrogating jihadists intent on mass murder and can the end ever justify the means?

I encourage all citizens to watch the movie, not for vindication in getting bin Laden, but for inquiry into the continued cost we pay as a society.

Harold Mantle

Lafayette