Don't get involved again with Iraq

After spending over a trillion taxpayer dollars, losing 4,500 American lives, maiming over 30,000 Americans' bodies, killing over 100,000 Iraqis and displacing over 2 million people from their homes, the longest war the U.S. has ever fought is proving to be a complete failure.

We deposed a terrible dictator, but replaced him with a corrupt president who fosters partisan sectarianism to the point that civil war has erupted throughout the region. I'm angry about this waste of our people, our treasure, our reputation. I'm angry that our government representatives listened to the chicken hawks and hyenas whose fear-mongering got us into this useless war 11 years ago.

Now, the Mahdi Army, whom we fought, is joining with Shiite militias, whom we fought, with support from our enemy, Iran, to battle Sunni militias whom we consider to be terrorists worst than al Qaeda, and those same chicken hawk hyenas are back on TV, braying that we should re-enter the war. Worse, President Obama seems to be listening to them as he deploys new cadres of advisers into the fray.

Our enemies are battling our enemies over there. Why not let this drama play itself out? The result will be three independent states that reflect the sectarian reality on the ground, and we should plan a strategy for best working with them.

Bruce Joffe

Piedmont

Litterers, leopards can't change spots

I praise the wonderful volunteers who fight bad behavior by continually clearing litter from Lake Merritt, a place to be treasured and respected, not polluted.

But anyone hoping to avoid terminal despair must recognize that there are two tribes of humans: the creator/protectors; and the destroyers who, from ignorance or hostility, will never hear rational pleas. For them, a clean place of beauty excites their desire to dirty and destroy.

A mass psychological conversion to persuade the destroyers to think of their environment as their home is beyond our hopes, but shaming them might help. If cameras were stationed around the lake so that images of the polluters could be shown on local television, some progress might be made. But we must give up on thinking that rational scientific thought will have any effect on those whose joy is in destruction.

James Eilers

Oakland

Join us for free concerts in park

The Oakland Municipal Band's 103rd season of free concerts are held at the Bandstand at Lakeside Park, 666 Bellevue Ave, Oakland. We welcome all to the first concert Friday from 1 to 3 p.m. to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Concerts continue at 1 to 3 p.m. Sundays, July 13, 20, 27 and Aug. 3. Bring a lawn chair and picnic. Flag waving encouraged. For information, call 510-339-2818 or visit www.oaklandmunicipalband.org.

Anne Woodell

Oakland

Rodeo committed cruelty to animals

At the May 17-18 Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Castro Valley, a panicky cow in the nonsanctioned wild cow milking contest jumped a gate and landed on her head, breaking her neck in the process. She was euthanized by the required on-site veterinarian, leaving an orphaned calf.

I saw a bareback bronc, bucking blind due to the flank strap, crash into and fall over the 6-foot fence, landing on her back -- injuries unknown. A sickly roping calf also died that weekend.

Wild cow milking contests should be banned outright, as should goat tying, another nonsanctioned event scheduled for the August junior rodeo. Both are stressful and dangerous for all concerned. Neither has anything to do with life on a work ranch. What's the point?

Disturbingly, the attending veterinarian has yet to submit the injury report(s) to the State Veterinary Medical Board as required by law within 48 hours of the rodeo's end (Penal Code 596.7). The vet and the rodeo committee should be fined accordingly for this violation ($500-$1500).

Please express your concerns to John Gouveia, General Manager, and the H.A.R.D. Board of Directors, 1099 E St., Hayward, CA 94541; or email gouj@haywardrec.org. The animals and the public deserve better.

Eric Mills

coordinator, Action For Animals Oakland

Unsafe A's ballpark should be replaced

I used to think the A's ballpark was quaint and old-fashioned. Then I fractured my fibia climbing up the concrete steps from my field box seat. Without rails down the center, the stadium is unsafe and does not meet ADA standards. We need a new, state-of-the-art stadium.

Helane Zeiger

Berkeley

High court ruling oppresses women

The Supreme Court's decision to support Hobby Lobby's petition to deny paying contraceptive medical coverage for religious reasons for their female employees is abhorrent.

This is the second recent judgment whereby women are the victims whose rights are removed in favor of a growing faction of religious zealots who are pushing their agenda on female citizens of this country. The striking down of the 35-foot buffer zone around Massachusetts abortion clinics, keeping protesters from approaching patients because it violates the First Amendment right of free speech, reeks of approving predatory behavior by protesters.

In both findings, women seeking reproductive health care are being denied their rights. Where did they go? Why is it the business of strangers or an employer to interfere with a woman's right to choose?

The Court is granting the employer ownership and control of the employee's life, a kind of slavery. The decision has opened the door to a plethora of future cases whereby a corporation's power trumps women's rights, which are currently being whittled away to nothing. Help.

Linda S. Messick

Oakland