Congress can easily cut defense budget

While I found Mark Emmons' article, "Bay Area housing subsidies suffer from sequestration," on the impact of sequestration to be emotionally compelling, I was frustrated that he ignored a report from the Nov. 12 Defense Insider that delineates that the Department of Defense ended the 2012 fiscal year with $105.7 billion in "unobligated funds" -- this is money that Congress could reappropriate as it is not being used.

Moneys that have not been "obligated" is not a new problem. The Defense Department had been unable to obligate all of its funds for many years. This is a clear indication that Congress can cut the defense budget without harming national security or even losing jobs -- let's start with $105.7 billion.

Just think how much security could be purchased for all the people struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table with that money.

Sandra Schwartz

San Francisco

Major changes needed to stop local deaths

I am writing because there needs to be something done about the children being killed in my city. We need to stop the murders in Oakland. There needs to be a bedtime for teenagers: 9 p.m. for kids 18 and younger.

We need more police in Oakland. We should have police on each corner. We will have fewer deaths in Oakland.

In 2013, there were 103 reported homicides in Oakland. Most of the victims were young black males who were killed with firearms in East and West Oakland. This is a continuation of a pattern in Oakland that has been the case for years. This is because of the economic and social realities of young people living in the city's poorest areas.

We need more help. If there were more police in Oakland, we would have fewer deaths per year. It seems that more crime happens in the evening. At night, we need watches by Oakland police. More than 100 homicides and thousands of shootings and robberies happen at night.

With more night watches, the killings in Oakland will drop.

We also need to take away guns with more than 20 rounds.

Chandler N. Robinson IV

Oakland

Meat consumption leads to disease

The new link between meat consumption and heart disease, discovered by Dr. Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic, is just the latest evidence linking meat consumption to killer diseases that cripple, then kill, 1.3 million Americans annually.

Hazen's study showed that carnitine, an amino acid contained in all meat products, is a major factor in heart failure.

Similarly, an Oxford University study of nearly 45,000 adults in last January's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vegetarians were 32 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease than people who ate meat and fish.

A Harvard University study of 37,698 men and 83,644 women in last April's Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that meat consumption raises the risk of total, heart and cancer mortality.

We have sacrificed the lives of 10,000 Americans and trillions of dollars in waging two wars to avenge the deaths of 2,600 Americans in the 9/11 attacks. When will we wage a bloodless, low-cost war on the killer meat-based diet, potentially responsible for as many as 1.3 million American deaths annually?

In the meantime, we have the power to raise our own life expectancy by adopting a meat-free diet. An Internet search provides ample resources.

Samuel Bentino

Oakland

Questions about Ohio rape case

After watching an in-depth TV program about the Steubenville High rape case, two questions burn in my mind: Who provided the alcohol for 50 students in three different households? Didn't any parent or adult object to the underage kids boozing it up in their homes and then driving impaired to the next party?

I think some adults should face charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Judith O'Neal

Richmond

Congress is afraid of NRA, ignoring public

Assault weapons should be banned.

I don't think Congress is listening to the people. Some members of Congress are afraid of the NRA, that some years ago thought these types of weapons should be banned.

Who uses these weapons? People who want to outgun the police.

Pistols and rifles are legal for defending self and family. Weapons that killed the children and adults at Sandy Hook and Colorado are for military use.

Elizabeth Bias

Concord