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Letters to the Editor, Dec. 28

War is not cheap

Of the recently passed $1.1 trillion congressional budget, $5 billion was allotted to the already bloated military. It represents 55 percent of the total discretionary spending for 2015. War is not cheap.

If enormous sums had been withheld from the Pentagon in the past, would we still find ourselves up to the eyeballs in foolish Middle Eastern wars? Because these are “nations of large tribes and sub-tribes known for shifting alliances and enemies,” why would anyone with common sense get involved?

Corruption is part of the price of war and includes the unspeakable methods of torture used on Guatanamo prisoners. The $81 million paid to two psychologists who devised such torment came from private sector contracts and cash payments, part of the “more money than we can possibly spend” quote.

Our leaders need to answer why they feel it is OK to dive headlong into the conflicts of other countries. We have social concerns at home which could be addressed at a fraction of the cost of the military.

If we hope to ever have peace again, we must slash the defense budget, retire the old warriors, and enforce the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1923 outlawing war.

Kathy Svendsen, Grants Pass

Uphold farmers' rights

On Dec. 19, reporter Vicki Aldous wrote an article about the poor alfalfa farmers battling destruction of their crop of GMO alfalfa.

This court fight is because another group of farmers wants to control what they grow, and none of the Family Farms Coalition farmers grows alfalfa! I sincerely hope that our courts uphold the Constitution on the right of farmers to grow what they want on their property.

Linda Gamble, Ashland

End grand jury system

The recent spate of grand juries failing to indict white police officers in the killings of black men and boys — especially in the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, who died in July after a white NYC officer choked him — got me to thinking that it’'s high time to do away with the ancient grand jury system.

Prosecutors control all the evidence that is heard by grand juries, which are held behind closed doors without testimony from defendants — because defense attorneys are not allowed in. Prosecutors have total control, and prosecutors never want to upset the police.

In my view all states should adopt the preliminary hearing system. Preliminary hearings are held in open court and defendants are represented by defense attorneys. A judge or magistrate hears evidence from both sides and determines whether there is probable cause to allow the case to go forward to trial.

By eliminating grand juries and adopting the prelim hearing method, the public will be better informed about both sides of the case from the get-go, the defendant and justice would be better served, and just maybe more police officers would get charged with crimes in these sensational cases.

Allen Hallmark, Talent

Did you know?

Austin Dodge is player of the year, winner of several trophies, and leader of a national championship team. Everyone knows that.

But, did you know that Austin Dodge also is an outstanding student at SOU? Congratulations to Austin, the coaches, and the entire SOU team.

Charles Jaeger, Rogue River

Letters to the Editor, Dec. 28