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Cluster bombs in Syria

Cluster bombs used recently in Syria were identified as a type of Soviet design. Silence was deafening in the US government; as a producer and user of cluster bombs, how could it react?

Of 13,306 recorded cluster-munitions casualties registered with Handicap International, 98 percent are civilian, while 27 percent are children.

Syrians have been advised to educate their citizens about the need to avoid cluster bombs, as the bomblets inside may explode for decades. To locate and destroy them is very costly.

The US military is developing new cluster bombs that it claims could have a much higher (less than 1 percent) dud rate. Kill or injure the total possible all at once, not take years. Surely this would facilitate keeping "score," noting the success of a target hit.

Of course, it is not up to the military to recommend that no more cluster munitions be made; that we join 111 states that have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was adopted in Dublin in 2008, and/or that we join the countries that have subscribed to the Wellington Declaration, agreeing in principle that their stockpiles should be destroyed.

If not the military or Defense Department, who will stop this madness? How soon?

The circus record

It's too bad the paper promoted the Ringling Bros. Circus, instead of doing an exposé (events choice, October 17). This outfit has a long, notorious, and well-documented history of cruelty to animals.

In addition to the record $270,000 fine Ringling recently paid for violating federal law, the US Department of Agriculture has opened a formal investigation into Ringling over allegations by a Colorado security guard that he witnessed an animal attendant beat a chained elephant with a bull hook. Independent veterinarians have called for Ringling to pull elephants that are sick and lame off the road.

A former Ringling staffer gave a chilling eyewitness account of baby elephants being ripped from their mothers, tied up with ropes, and beaten until they give up all hope. Ringling owner Kenneth Feld gave sworn court testimony that elephants are hit with bull hooks — heavy batons with a sharp metal hook on the end. Independent veterinarians have called for Ringling to pull elephants that are sick and lame off the road.  An in-depth investigative piece about the circus's entrenched culture of cruelty ran in Mother Jones.

Readers can review and judge for themselves. Please remember that every ticket purchased directly contributes to the miserable lives of the animals.
O'Connor is a staff writer for the PETA Foundation.

Our endorsements

I have been a long time reader of your magazine and am disappointed in the way you have gone on a real crusade against Maggie Brooks.

I have no real love for her; I am a conservative, so I tend to think both Democrats and Republicans are all crooked; I just want to see a return to the Constitution. Republicans and especially conservative-minded people are portrayed as "extremists and radicals" simply because we do not comport to the Democrats' belief that government is the answer to everything.

You claim that we want to "turn back the clock on women's health and to destroy the social safety net for everyone but the fortunate few." It sickens me to think that someone claiming to be objective would make such a disgusting, low, and frankly outright false claim.

You make it out as if women just think with their vaginas, as if contraception is their primary concern. God forbid we want to limit entitlements and believe people should be responsible for taking care of themselves. That is the type of thing that made America great, not paying for someone's contraception out of another person's paycheck.

People overwhelmingly vote against your radical ideals like so-called comprehensive immigration reform. Instead you are concerned that Louise Slaughter – who has brought such genius ideas as sending millions of dollars to Texas to study the weather on Venus, who has taken seven pay raises for herself – would be facing the first real race in over 20 years.

You should be ashamed of yourselves for betraying your fellow man in the name of compassion.