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<b>Government snooping</b>

EDITOR: Buried on Page A10 of the Friday's paper was an article that, thanks to Edward Snowden, revealed how the U.S. government, without our knowledge or consent, has spent billions of tax dollars to break the encryption codes that give our Internet use some level of personal privacy and security ("Report: U.S. cracked most online encryption").

Anyone wanting to know where public interest and opinion is heading these days need go no further than our Internet searches and email. Collectively they are the pulse of the nation. Studying that pulse clearly shows what we are thinking before we even know we are thinking it. But Google and now the U.S. government knows.

All the government needs to do now is hire teams of psychologists expert at tweaking public opinion to "guide" us in the right direction. Already happening? Maybe. One thing is sure: Knowledge is power, and to paraphrase Lord Acton, absolute knowledge corrupts absolutely.

Too bad this article got equal billing with "Zimmerman's wife files divorce," while the front-page lead article was "Sleepy in school."

Just a wake-up call.

GARY SCHOUEST

Santa Rosa

<b>Presumed innocent</b>

EDITOR: In regards to Supervisor Efren Carrillo, please remember four powerful important words that we honor in the United States: innocent until proven guilty.

LORI BLACKBURN

Sebastopol

<b>Loud leaf blowers</b>

EDITOR: You often hear that it isn't the pit bull dog that's a problem, it is the owner. That being said, it isn't the leaf blower that's a problem, but the user of the blower ("Sonoma closer to gas leaf-blower ban," Thursday).

With proper training, the use of a leaf blower doesn't have to be such an enormous issue. It is when the leaf blower is constantly revved up and down, rather than used at one consistent speed, that the noise and aggravation begins.

Maybe the city of Sonoma should give training classes, taught by the city's maintenance department, prior to another ban and more problems created for the code enforcement team and the police department.

AUDREY J. CHAPMAN

Sonoma

<b>Why Carrillo should go</b>

EDITOR: Many letters, many opinions about Supervisor Efren Carrillo's current situation. First, let me say we all have our demons, private sides, sometimes dark, especially when light is shed on them. Compassion and some understanding are always good starting points when seeing these sides of others exposed.

Having said that, I think Carrillo should resign, out of selflessness, and say to his supporters, "I need to take care of myself. I don't want my personal failings to distract from what this position means to the county." If he did this, and took whatever time and intervention was needed and returned to the public, I believe he would return a stronger, more transparent leader, with a new understanding of what people go through.

He shouldn't resign because of a pending trial; he should deal with that on its own. He shouldn't resign because of criticism; he should resign for his health and well-being. He will be stronger for it and will be able to offer, through what no doubt will be continued public service, a greater contribution to everyone.

STEVE MIKSIS

Santa Rosa

<b>Hit Assad's pocketbook</b>

EDITOR: Why do American leaders believe cruise missiles are an effective way to send a message and hold a dictator accountable?

During the decade between the wars on Iraq, the U.S. routinely launched bombs and missiles into Iraq to send Saddam a message. Saddam never got the message, never changed his behavior, never was injured or killed (though many Iraqi conscripts and civilians were killed by U.S. bombs), never personally suffered from the bombings.

There is no reason to believe bombing Syria will be more effective.

To hold Bashar Assad accountable, hit him where it hurts — his pocketbook. He and his family and cronies have about $1.5 billion stashed overseas. Make them all paupers. Now that would be a message.

I would support the U.S. assembling a crack team of hackers to go after Assad's money, be it in Russia or the Cayman Islands or anywhere on the globe, and transferring the funds to NGOs assisting the 2 million Syrian refugees.

I don't support military strikes against Syria. Bombs and weapons have already killed 100,000 Syrians over the past two years. More bombs dropped from the sky, this time by the U.S., won't help the situation.

I urge Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Rep. Jared Huffman to vote no.

SHARON TREMBLE

Occidental

<b>Believing in Carrillo</b>

EDITOR: The Efren Carrillo I know is a hardworking, kind of heart soul who gives and gives and gives for the good of all of us in Sonoma County.

We have a tendency in our society to diminish the character standings of someone such as Carrillo when given the opportunity. We take away their achievements and make them more like one of us — or less — as if somehow that will make us feel better about our own achievements — or lack thereof.

I will stand by Carrillo. I will speak gratitude of his achievements and accomplishments, but I will not speak ill of his actions on the night in question. Be he guilty or not guilty in a court of law, he is human, he is subject to imperfections as are the rest of us. Yeah, I believe in him.

KATHY MUNCH

Sebastopol