War on pot
The drug war is largely a war on marijuana smokers. In 2008, there were 847,863 marijuana arrests in the U.S., almost 90 percent for simple possession. At a time when state and local governments are laying off police, firefighters and teachers, this country continues to spend enormous public resources criminalizing Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis. The end result of this ongoing culture war is not necessarily lower rates of use.
 
The US has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available. Decriminalization is a long overdue step in the right direction. Taxing and regulating marijuana would render the drug war obsolete. As long as organized crime controls distribution, marijuana consumers will come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. This “gateway” is a direct result of marijuana prohibition.
 
United Nations drug stats: unodc.org/
Comparative analysis of US vs. Dutch rates of drug use: drugwarfacts.org/thenethe.htm
Marijuana arrest stats: drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/53
~ROBERT SHARPE, POLICY ANALYST, COMMON SENSE FOR DRUG POLICY, WAshINGTON, DC

Evil is as evil does
Because some kook preacher has nothing better to do than to burn books doesn’t mean the media has to make a superstar out of him. I predict this will fizzle like the Y2K scare, when even radical Muslims will conclude it’s all about one loony attention-getter and not worth an unholy war.
 
As a born-again Christian, I’m well aware of the persecution of my fellow believers — by Muslims, Nazis, communists and just about anything that would be considered pagan or antichrist. But I’ve yet to see anything in my Bible that admonishes us to return evil for evil. It says to ESCHEW evil. Any religious zealot or cult member who was won to the Lord didn’t choose Christ because another zealot burned his books.
 
Besides that, the evidence isn’t clear that Sept. 11 was even a Muslim plot. The world is run today by a tiny cabal of One Worlders who seek to install a global government over the ashes of all national sovereignty. To expedite their New World Order agenda, they aim to divide us.
 
Maybe the book-burning preacher needs the Lord. Maybe we all need 
to re-read Jesus’ last words before 
He ascended.
~ARIC LEAVITT, VALLEY VILLAGE

Stop the killing
The death toll continues to rise at SeaWorld after a 12-year-old orca named Sumar died at the theme park’s San Diego location. Sumar died far short of the expected 50- to 60-year lifespan of orcas who roam the vast oceans, their rightful homes. 
 
Orcas are intelligent marine mammals that think and plan and work cooperatively. They share complex extended family relationships and swim for up to 100 miles every day. At SeaWorld, their worlds have been reduced to tiny, barren concrete tanks where they perform tricks for food and splash shrieking crowds.
 
These animals will continue to live and die in misery as long as the public buys a ticket. The next time your family is considering a trip to SeaWorld, please ask yourself if it’s right to expect the lifelong confinement of intelligent and aware animals for a few hours of diversion. Please say no. 
Visit www.PETA.org to learn more.
~JENNIFER O’CONNOR, PETA FOUNDATION
NORFOLK, VA.

 FROM THE WEB:
 
Chaaaaannge! (July 1) 
Chevron gouged $24 billions in excessive profits in 2008, as per www.tyrannyofoil.com. Schwarzenegger should put an excessive profits tax on these profits instead of protecting the oil corporations from fair taxation. Then there would be sufficient public funds for all the vulnerable, people programs. Big business lost the fight to eliminate domestic violence funding, so now they are coming back with a vengeance. Schwarzenegger picks on the most vulnerable, and not on corporate tax “deadbeats.” Schwarzenegger, Shriver, Maldonado and Whitman could not care less whether battered women live or die. 
~posted by EarlRichards
Listening and learning (July 8) 
Sounds like Pasadena picked up another good man for the job of chief of police. However, once again the new chief is being duped, or already has been duped, into believing that the “community” consists of only black and Hispanic people. Mr. Sanchez, why haven’t you stated that you have met with people from the San Rafael, Linda Vista, Hastings Ranch and La Manda park areas? They have a right to hear your game plan for combating crime and addressing budget issues too. Try to form your own game plans and not those who work at City Hall. 
~posted by Insider
The handwriting on the wall (July 22):
Can you clarify something that I am unclear on in the article regarding the graffiti? Is there a way to determine when the things were painted there? It seems that you suggest in the article that it was very recent by pointing out the items left behind. Also, suggestions to obtain evidence from the items left behind seems to be a very good idea, but only if it can be determined that it was quite recent.  
 
That work took a long time to put up there. Can they estimate how long it might take to cover such a wide expanse and if it appears to be the work of a single person (creative styles) or possibly a group of weirdoes?
 
So hard to imagine that anyone would do this, much less take such time to prepare for it and the time to paint it. These are very disturbing images, but I have to say that it looks like some talent gone awry. Hopefully that will make it really easy to find the idiot if there is a trail of other works similar to this. 
~posted by mary
Rolling in green (July 29)
I hope my kids don’t use marijuana, either as teenagers or as young adults, but if they do, I REALLY hope they don’t end up in jail! I hope that all parents will join in the fight to stop putting our own kids in jail over something as silly as marijuana. Yes, it dumbs a person down for a little while (about as bad as a day on the video games), and yes, it has some minor health effects (about as bad as smoking a cigarette, I suppose). But those aren’t nearly as bad as the effects of being locked up in jail with sexual predators and loss of financial aid, etc. that comes, not from the marijuana, but from the LAW. It’s time to quit letting government officials ruin our kids’ lives over a little marijuana! 
~posted by Conservative Christian