Letters To The Editor


August 17, 2008

Wasting resources in far-off lands

It makes me furious that billions of dollars have been squandered on "train and equip" programs in places such as Georgia ("In Georgia, the hazards of proxy war," Aug. 14).

This kind of proxy warfare only makes the world less safe and makes Americans hated for our gratuitous meddling.

Nation-building doesn't have any constitutional basis, and encouraging the dreams of independence of ethnic groups around the globe is perilous.

Whatever principles this republic was founded on ought to remain stateside.

Unless our national security and the safety of U.S. citizens is involved, the president and his advisers must eschew any active involvement in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations.

It is deplorable that my taxes are funding unnecessary bloodshed, death and misery around the world.

Enough already.

Rosalind Ellis, Baltimore

Irresponsible ally provoked the war

The recent conflict between Georgia and Russia began not as a result of Russian aggression but because of the action taken by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, when he ordered Georgian forces into South Ossetia, which was at best reckless and at worse foolish ("Russia calls for end to assault on Georgia," Aug. 13).

Mr. Saakashvili must be reminded that the dominant power in his region is Russia and that being an ally of the United States does not grant him carte blanche to act irresponsibly.

Yes, Russia must be called to account when it overreaches and intrudes in the political affairs of its neighbors, as should be the case with any nation.

But we must also be equally quick to rebuke our allies when they act imprudently.

One thing more dangerous than a rival power is a reckless ally.

Nonso Umunna, Baltimore

Harford teacher merits more mercy

Harford County Deputy Sheriff Sean Marston's claim that the 19 marijuana plants discovered on Bob Chance's property equate to a marijuana cigarette every two hours for four years is dubious at best ("Community in shock over Harford man's drug charges," Aug. 10).

But simple common sense should suggest that this 62-year-old former schoolteacher and fixture in the community for 30 years does not deserve to spend 20 years in jail and forfeit all his possessions.

Although there appears to be no evidence Mr. Chance ever intended to sell marijuana or any other drug, he faces charges of manufacturing or distributing the drug. Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly's rationalization for this serious charge relies on emphasizing the word "manufacturing."

More fundamentally, however, it's disingenuous for Mr. Cassilly to assert that he has a duty to treat Mr. Chance like any other criminal. His duty is to weigh the facts and circumstances of each and every case and determine the best course of action under the law.

Possession of marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms is illegal, and if Mr. Chance is guilty of those offenses, he should be punished.

But does anybody really believe justice would be served by taking everything this man owns and putting him in jail for what could easily be the rest of his life?

Dan Bernath, Washington

The writer is assistant director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Buoy bandits did real damage

Candus Thomson should be commended for her article "Help needed to nab buoy vandals" (Aug. 10).

The vandals who shot up the Patapsco River "smart" buoy have cut off a steady flow of information valuable to local fishermen, Chesapeake Bay scientists, educators and recreational boaters on the new Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

The buoy provided real-time environmental data, including wind, water temperature and current water flows, that are valued by boaters and fishermen and water quality data that helped scientists build a picture of the bay's health.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and her colleagues in Congress worked hard to get the buoys in the water to aid the public and the environment.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police, in coordination with federal authorities, are looking for the vandals, and a reward of up to $1,250 will be provided for information that leads to a conviction of the vandals.

I hope the investigators find the vandals.

Who knows what the shooters were thinking when they decided to blast the buoy?

But the costs are clear: lost data, a lost resource for local boaters, fishermen and teachers, and a repair bill for as much as $15,000.

Patrick F. Noonan, Arlington, Va.

The writer is vice chairman of Friends of the John Smith Chesapeake Trail.

One last chance for racing industry?

Maryland horse racing is on the brink of extinction, with the November slots referendum its only chance of survival.

Today, Maryland racing is not a self-sustaining business because neighboring states are offering more competitive races and purses.

Indeed, The Sun's article "Racing subsidies could leave Md." (Aug. 6) shows that nearly 50 percent of even the prize money won in Maryland went to other states.

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