Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 7

A fresh look at death penalty is timely

I agree with a recent Olympian editorial calling for a public discussion of capital punishment. As you note, 15 states and most of the rest of the civilized world have rejected a state imposed death penalty. There are many reasons to oppose this final and fatal act. Since 1973, 135 people have been released from death row after evidence of their innocence has come to light. How many more innocent, usually poor and black, people have been killed by the state? Of those executed in the United States, 34 percent have been black.

A recent review of race and the death penalty showed that of 250 people executed 15 were white defendants with a black victim and 235 were black defendants with a white victim. Regarding executions as a deterrent to murder, the 2006 FBI crime report showed that the South has the highest murder rates in the country while at the same time committing 80 percent of the executions. The Northeast has the lowest murder rate and the lowest execution rate. These are just a few of the many reasons to take another look at capital punishment.



Seas are threatened by greenhouse gases

Every year, human activities dump about three billion metric tons of carbon (in the form of CO2) into the atmosphere and another two billion metric tons into the oceans. While the CO2 in the air causes global warming, the CO2 added to the seas has an equally powerful negative effect — ocean acidification. The increasingly acid ocean waters make it harder for shellfish, corals and other large marine organisms to prevent their shells from dissolving. For tiny shell-bearing organisms – larvae, plants, protozoans, animals — it may be impossible to form shells at all.

Oyster larvae at a coastal shellfish hatchery in Oregon are now being killed by upwelled lower pH(= more acidic) subsurface water. Larvae reared there in less acidic surface water survive. A writer recently assured us that, since the upwelled water was last in contact with air 50 years ago (when atmospheric CO2 was lower than today), the deaths can’t be due to ocean acidity. He is mistaken. Fifty years ago, the air already had 25 percent more CO2 than its natural state before the industrial revolution. Natural processes have also moved CO2 into deeper water over the last 50 years, all with the result that the upwelled water at the hatchery is now about nine times more acidic than the present surface water. That is huge, for tiny organisms.

Ocean acidification threatens fisheries, aquaculture and whole ecosytems. It is as compelling a reason to reduce humanity’s CO2 emissions as is global warming itself.



Obama must take action in Honduras

President Obama leaves the Cuban embargo in place citing (paraphrasing) the lack of democracy in Cuba. He hypocritically fails to impose his same “democracy” criteria to China with its abysmal human rights record, or the brutal King Abdulla with whom he recently exchanged kudos with in Saudi Arabia.

Obama is very selective in his drumbeat for democracy. Another case in point is his muted response to the military coup in Honduras, where democratically elected President Zelaya was kidnapped by the Honduran military and flown to Costa Rica. With CIA operatives in Honduras providing Obama with intelligence, he has to have known of the planned coup beforehand. This suggests to me Obama’s complicity in the illegal takeover of a duly elected government.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refuses to call it a coup!

It gets worse. A senior official in the Obama administration has suggested a ‘compromise (with thugs) between President Zelaya, Michelelli and the Honduran military under which Zelaya would be allowed to serve his remaining six months with limited and clearly defined powers.

In the days ahead, if President Obama does not cut off military and economic aid (which by U.S. law he is obliged to do) to this outlaw government, then we will know for certain that he is a partner in this crime.



Parents need to wake up to networking by kids

Parents, do you know what your kids are writing on Facebook, MySpace, or other social networking Web sites? You might be very surprised to find out. You don’t have to be Facebook friends with a person to read their comments; anything you put out there in cyberspace is very public by direct or indirect means. I’ve read horribly foul, bigoted comments made by kids from nice families with normally attentive parents. If your first thought is “not my kid,” think again!

The funny thing is that some of these kids have adult “friends,” who are reading these comments along with their morning newspaper. The kids aren’t even smart enough to not put this garbage in writing. It would be funny if not so unfortunately inappropriate. Maybe a condition of children belonging to any social networking site should be that you, the parent, have to have full access to the account — I’m just sayin’…