Why is the Middle East always our problem?

On any given day, the news throughout the Middle East is Muslims killing Muslims or Muslims killing Christians. And no matter where, they all hate the United States.

Yet, we seem to willingly accept the responsibility that the United States should do something about the violence. Why?

It's said the United States has special interests in the Middle East. Like what? Israel? Why is that our problem? The Suez Canal? Why do we need it if we're not running warships around looking for the next fight? Oil, why would they stop selling that?

The Middle East is Europe's problem, if it is anyone's problem.

Stop giving these people who hate us billions of dollars for tools of war. And while it would cost American jobs in the military-industrial complex, maybe it's time for the United States to stop subsidizing these companies that deal in war machines and put them to work manufacturing products for the good of mankind instead of destruction.

Dewayne Guidinger

Concord

Immigration issue up close, personal

During the last year, the spacious senior apartment complex in which I live has been totally refurbished: construction, replacement of key components, lots of painting, roofing, landscaping and interior decoration. Now the upgrade is complete.

The workers throughout the upgrade were skilled, diligent, polite and, invariably, Mexican (I even learned a few Spanish words). We elders are not lawless. At the same time, most don't care what ethnicity the workers are or whether they are naturalized citizens.

They did well the work assigned by a primary contractor or subcontractors, who deal with workers' backgrounds.

I hope the Mexican immigration issue is handled wisely, affording avenues for citizenship for those already here. Hounding down workers for proper papers and, if they have none, placing them in the (rumored) rough West County Detention Center seems stupid and inhumane.

Claire J. Baker

Pinole

Prop. 63 funds have been wasted

I agree with the Aug. 19 Times editorial that lamented much of the funds from Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, have been wasted because of little oversight and even less accountability of how this tax money's been spent.

While the Times opposed passage of Prop. 63 in 2004, I supported it and still do. Persons with a mental illness diagnosis are the group most discriminated against in this country: far more than those discriminated against because of race, gender or sexual orientation.

Prop. 63 funds should be paid in cash to those who have received these diagnoses.

For example, I was first diagnosed with a mental illness in 1968. I've always been opposed to any forms of violence, including the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, since moving to Contra Costa County in 1985, I've been unwillingly sent to the locked county psychiatric hospital twice under Section 5150 ("danger to self, danger to others or gravely disabled") of the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act.

Both of these quick round trips cost me money, for which I've never been compensated.

Ralph Hoffmann

Walnut Creek

We're all responsible for nonstop violence

The heartbreaking story of the murder "for the fun of it" of Christopher Lane, a young Australian studying in Oklahoma, broke on Facebook last week.

There was an outcry and discussion of the punishment due the teens who confessed to the crime. The teens' parents were excoriated. Gun control and individual responsibility were all mentioned.

A lone voice, asserting that we are all responsible, blamed it on our lack of investment in the political process to create better laws, prisons, etc.

However, we're all responsible in a more personal way: Our children are subjected to horrific portrayal of violence in the media 24/7 -- on their TVs, games, and movies -- and no way out in the foreseeable future. Why? Because there's money to be made in stoking people's fears. And as long as we're all so comfortable with our stuff, we can be pacified even as we object.

I fear for our civilization.

Kathe Jordan

Berkeley

'Small piece of metal' as defense

This responds to the recent letter from Marilyn Venable, "The real murderer won't stand trial."

The elderly couple were home alone when the young miscreant broke through their back door. The offender cannot and will not stand trial because he ran away. Fortunately, the otherwise defenseless couple were unharmed because of a small piece of metal. It is called a gun.

Steve Poff

Walnut Creek