Letters to the Editor

Readers write about California's crops, why South Africa turned away the Dalai Lama, school security since Columbine, and foster care.

California farmers should grow food

Regarding the April 17 article, "California's drought raises rural-urban tensions over water": Over 1 million acres of alfalfa, 500,000 acres of cotton, and 700,000 acres of almonds will be planted in California this year. In addition to that, hundreds of thousands of new almond trees were just planted last winter, even in the face of a drought.

Neither almonds, alfalfa, nor cotton are staples of our diet, nor do these machine-harvested crops provide employment for the farmhands of the Central Valley in any great numbers.

What are we Californians supposed to think of these farmers who keep demanding more and more of our water without providing any benefit to our citizens?

Before thinking about building new dams or canals, let's think about how to allocate the existing water to the best benefit of our citizens.

Give us broccoli, lettuce, bell peppers and other crops that make living in this great state so fantastic – and put a cap on those crops that are produced almost exclusively for the international export market, to benefit very few at the expense of everybody else.

Mike Hudson
Berkeley, Calif.

South Africa rebuff of Dalai Lama was to be expected

In regard to the March 26 article, "South Africa turns away Dalai Lama, political firestorm follows": I'm not exactly shocked at South Africa's decision to disinvite the Dalai Lama.

Despite all the adulation heaped on Nelson Mandela, people forget that his African National Congress was and is a Marxist organization that accepted aid from various radical regimes in its struggle against the South African white minority government. I always believed that this background did not bode well for the nation's future, just as I was highly apprehensive about the former Rhodesia back in 1980 when that nation was "liberated" by another "black freedom fighter." World opinion then, in its euphoria over the change in regimes, didn't seem to want to notice that the hero of the moment – Robert Mugabe – was a lifelong Marxist. A Maoist, in fact: a bit of irony that shouldn't be lost in view of the rebuff of the Dalai Lama.

Tim Driscoll
Wheeling, W.V.

Armed security guards would keep students safe in school

In regard to the April 20 article, "What schools learned about safety since Columbine": Author Stacy Teicher Khadaroo hit some of the major points, but neglected to mention the complete lack of armed security guards to prevent the sort of slaughter which transpired at Columbine and Virginia Tech.

Perhaps political correctness forbids mention of obvious things, but just one armed security guard might have halted the slaughter.

John Taylor
Falls Church, Va.

Foster care kids face challenges from all sides

Regarding the April 20 editorial, "Extend foster care to age 21": I was a foster parent for six years and have adopted a son from the foster care system.

Foster children who age out of foster care do not become homeless or go to prison simply because they are sent into the world at the age of 18. These children are not allowed to have and maintain bonds to former foster siblings or former foster parents, and sometimes even biological siblings are not allowed contact. When these children age out, they have no one. Many return to their abusive biological families because unhealthy relationships are better than none at all.

Child Protective Services may save children from sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect, but the state-sanctioned abuse at the hands of their "protectors" is often times just as damaging.

Shonna Harden

The Monitor welcomes your letters. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must include your full name; your city, state, and country; and your telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear on our website, www.CSMonitor.com. E-mail letters to oped@csps.com. Or mail letters to Readers Write, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.

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