Snowden a true hero for blowing whistle

Although enforcement of his decision is pending appeal, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon's order that the NSA stop collecting "bulk telephony data" on Americans' phone calls indicates that we can be a nation ruled by law, rather than by personal dictates, as is North Korea.

There, a man-child can have anyone executed and all are afraid to protest. Here, citizens can take their grievance that a government spy agency violated our privacy rights to court, and justice can prevail.

Amassing information about everyone's communications, all the time, through telephone, Internet and email creates a vast potential for corruption, intimidation and general mischief from even the most stalwart of government stewards. If you need an example, consider three words: J. Edgar Hoover. He collected files on everyone in Washington, and nearly everyone was afraid of what he could reveal. NSA's files are ever so much larger, and its ability to mine databases more powerful. Responsible oversight has failed; the FISA court does not protect us.


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How were challengers Larry Klayman and Charles Strange able to verify NSA's abuses? Until recently, all claims of uncontrolled spying were denied. But one brave whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, revealed NSA malpractice. And how has Mr. Snowden been thanked for his courage? Our government indicted him for treason when he should be honored as a national hero. Without courageous individuals, our nation of law could fall victim to man-child dictators.

Bruce Joffe

Piedmont

Ireland's volunteer efforts are impressive

We are writing to share our support for Doug Ireland for Piedmont School Board.

We have not gotten to know Doug through our kids -- ours are still at Beach and PMS while his are at PHS and beyond. Instead, we've come together thanks to that other defining aspect of the Piedmont community -- volunteering.

Doug has been an active and dedicated volunteer for 17 years and going strong. He has held leadership roles for Measure A and the Piedmont Education Foundation, participated in Haven Site Council, and coached soccer for 16 years -- a testament to his dedication and patience. Doug has also helped with the PCC Mexico house-building trips. As strong supporters of language study and service learning, we appreciate the commitment of parents like Doug to this unique experience for our kids.

We think Doug's many great personal qualities, his K-12 perspective as a parent and community leader, and his dedication will make him a great addition to the School Board.

We moved to Piedmont seven years ago, and can only hope to be as engaged as Doug a decade from now.

Susan Miller-Davis and Jonathan Davis

Piedmont

Stop 'Frankenbomb' nuke development

Livermore Lab has been pushing Congress to move forward with the development of a dangerous new nuclear warhead. Most of the research and development would take place in Livermore.

This project, estimated to cost upward of $14 billion, would mix elements from several existing nuclear weapons.

Some components would come from the Navy's submarine-based W88, some from the Air Force's silo-based W8 and some from other weapon designs.

This mash-up of three or more different warheads would create an untested "Frankenbomb" with new military capabilities, thereby violating our nuclear non-proliferation treaty obligations and encouraging other nations to undertake similar new weapons programs.

Because the Navy and others have objected to the interoperable warhead's costs as well as the radical nature of the proposed new design, the Obama administration could, and should, impose a five-year delay on the program to study alternatives.

The Livermore-based Tri-Valley CARES has brought important information to light about this new warhead and continues to challenge this dangerous and costly program.

The group serves as an important check on the Lab's otherwise unfettered nuclear ambitions. Check out their work at www.trivalleycares.org.

Scott Yundt

Oakland

School area parking a serious safety issue

We appreciate the Dec. 20 article reporting on the complaints about the Montclair school. Unfortunately, traffic and parking problems were not mentioned, not even briefly, along with "other concerns."

For us who live on or immediately around Cabot Drive, these are the most pressing issues, since they create a serious safety problem in addition to the daily inconvenience. Cars park on both sides of the street, some of them right under "No Parking" signs.

Besides congestion, they impair visibility for drivers turning onto Mountain Boulevard and would prevent emergency vehicles from turning onto our street if, God forbid, that would be necessary. We have spoken to the principal about this but did not get satisfactory answers and feel we were brushed off.

We hope this letter comes to the attention of the school staff and school board who are in positions to do something about our concerns.

Outi and Warren Gould

Oakland

Shame on Lockyer for taking new job

Looks like California takes the shaft again. Our state treasurer, being paid $139,189-plus, needs a part-time job?

Shame on you, Bill Lockyer. The good citizens of California have stood by you for 46 years through thick and thin. You should retire now and start your apparently new career.

Let's fill this critical position with someone who is willing to dedicate all of their time to the financial affairs of the state.

Susan Elliott

Oakland