Arabs, Muslims have abused Palestinians

While discussing Syria, Iraq, Iran and Egypt, writer Amer Araim reports oppression, repression, failed human rights, increasing violence, draconian measures, sectarian policies and nuclear programs.

Then he abruptly claims that for Arabs and Muslims everywhere "the most dear and sensitive matter" is the Palestinian situation. Which Palestinians? Those in Gaza, under Hamas control? Or Palestinian who live freely in Israel? If the writer refers to Palestinian refugees, then one might wonder: Why does the Arab/Muslim world express love for their Arab and Muslim refugee brothers by:

Forcing them to remain for 60 years in refugee camps, making them the world's only permanent refugees; refusing (except Jordan) Palestinians citizenship, keeping them stateless and forbidding them work in many professions; demanding since 1948 that one U.N. agency (UNRWA) exclusively support Palestinians (while shortchanging other refugee groups); contributing less to UNRWA than U.S. and EU taxpayers; poisoning generations of Palestinian children to hate and murder Jews and Israelis to honor Allah; exploiting and abusing Palestinians as a political tool against Israel.

June Brott

Oakland

President has to be kidding about NSA


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"The NSA actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people's emails, not listening to ... the contents of their phone calls," President Barack Obama told Chris Matthews of MSNBC on Dec. 5. He went on to say that he would be, "proposing some self-restraint on the NSA and initiating some reforms that can give people some more confidence."

NSA self-restraint? Is he serious? He is contradicting himself here; if the NSA is doing such a good job refraining from spying on Americans, then why the need for reforms?

The problem is he seems to be speaking to an audience who doesn't exist. When it comes to national security, there is little to no middle ground. Those who come down on the side of increasing national security have never supported Obama; they weren't even impressed when he caught Osama bin Laden.

On the other hand, those most concerned about privacy have been horrified by the expansion of surveillance programs ever since the signing of the Patriot Act. Most embarrassing is that he campaigned for office on the platform of reining surveillance in; now with the Edward Snowden revelations that he allowed surveillance to continue to expand on his watch, no one is likely to take him seriously.

Obama has alienated his base in an attempt to please hawks who will never approve of anything he does. Fortunately for him, at least he doesn't have to try to run for office again.

Christopher Robin Byers

Berkeley

Crime has lowered with Quan as mayor

This is regarding the Dec. 6 letter, "Mayor's message is not based in reality."

In practically all measures, Oakland's crime rates are down, according to Oakland Police Department statistics, and far from living in "Lala Land," as the letter writer contends, in addition to her continuing efforts to expand the number of police officers in Oakland, Mayor Jean Quan has long been an advocate of common-sense strategies to avoid being a target for crimes (such as not leaving items attractive to thieves in plain sight).

Walmart is to be commended for encouraging our awareness, but could certainly couch their reminder in less sensational terms: "Fellow citizens, it's always smart to lock valuables in the trunk of your car, even when you think you are in a 'safe' neighborhood."

Christie McCarthy

Oakland

BART workers living high as rest struggle

BART employees came out smelling like roses, receiving a 3 percent raise per year for four years, which boosts their yearly gross salary to close to $90,000. They also receive family health care benefits for a premium of $130 a month. Not bad for a 90 percent unskilled labor force.

They'll enjoy all these benefits, never having any consideration for the thousands of workers who worried about how they would get to work during the strike, many of them receiving less pay, pensions and health care.

I suppose they are not aware that 2 million people can't afford health insurance or that people on Social Security with fixed incomes are to receive a 1.5 percent raise.

Not only were commuters subjected to the inconvenience of how to get to work, but workers probably didn't care when fares are raised not once but twice, as most of them likely get free rides.

As a former union man for many years, I know a good contract when I see one, and that is a very good contract considering the economic conditions.

Remember, taxpayers' money built BART, and we are still paying.

Owen "Jack" Jones

San Leandro