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 our 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 on cigarettes.

Emily Dougherty

Susan Hong

Elizabeth Legg

Alameda

Complaining about leaders is not enough

Like all concerned residents of Oakland, I am appalled at the recent spate of violence and crime in the city, and at the ineptitude and immobilization of the mayor and council.

However, it is not enough to rail against these local politicians who blithely allow the violence to continue unabated.

I would urge everyone to write and call other elected officials whose salaries are paid by you: Gov. Jerry Brown, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, state Sen. Loni Hancock, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Rep. Barbara Lee.

They should be made aware of the carnage in Oakland -- and should bring state and federal resources to bear.

Please write and call -- not just complain.

Christine O'Connor

Oakland

Ferries and the police should work together

There are not enough spots at the Alameda ferry parking lot for the ridership, and it is brought to the attention of management daily by the ferry crew.

On Nov. 27, about 30 of us could not find parking and parked across the street on Adelphian Way. We received tickets from the city of Alameda for $38. I contacted the Blue & Gold Ferry Service and was informed there is nothing that can be done to waive the fee.

Wouldn't you think the ferry service and Police Department could work together to provide assistance to their riders and taxpayers?

Or perhaps they are under the impression they are our legislators in D.C., who also do not know that they work for the people either?

Jane Pennington

Alameda

U.N. validates the idea of a Palestinian state

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