Where Are The Dems?
Thanks for the excellent interview with Scott Ritter ("Bombs Away," Feature, Dec. 5). There's one point which Ritter glosses over a bit that I think deserves highlighting: the lack of an opposition since the Democrats took control of Congress. The Democrats, in fact, are falling into line again with George W. Bush in his drive for war against Iran, just as they did in the run-up to the Iraq war. Not only did they go along with the resolution declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization, but the leading presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have made past assertions that should caution anyone who has illusions that either of these Democrats will significantly alter America's foreign policy in regards to Iran or anything else.
In a speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on March 2, 2007, Obama said, "we can . . . more effectively deal with one of the greatest threats to the United States, Israel and world peace: Iran. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime is a threat to all of us . . . we should take no option, including military action, off the table." Obama failed, of course, to mention the specific threat Iran poses to the world. Iran has no suicidal plans to attack the United States or Israel (suicidal because the second they lifted a finger against either they would be "shocked and awed" into submission). Meanwhile, the United States is the country making threats against Iran, has already committed a war of aggression against a sovereign nation (the supreme crime in international law, for which the Nazis were prosecuted at Nuremberg), and stationed tens of thousands of troops in Iran's backyard.
Not to be outdone is Clinton, who declared in a Feb. 1 speech (also in front of AIPAC), "As I have long said and will continue to say, U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal: We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. And in dealing with this threat, as I've also said for a long time, no option can be taken off the table." The use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran is one of the options reportedly being considered by the Pentagon to thwart Iran's nonexistent nuclear weapons.
So why do the Democrats continue to echo Bush and approve of American imperialism in the Middle East? They share the same goals as the Republicans: to ensure the American ruling class' control over the vast natural resources of the Middle East and to prevent the rise of a rival power to challenge the American empire.
Where's the Constitution?
It was good to read of the relief now come into the Kenneth Barnes case ("Sex, Lies, and Legal Red Tape," Mobtown Beat, Dec. 5), up to the paragraph with something else to be disturbed about, that he "has been in solitary confinement and unable to receive visitors for the past six months for refusing a drug test."
Since when is refusing to take a drug test a punishable offense?
The Constitution specifically protects us against such action in its Fifth Amendment: "No person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law."
Please pursue this matter until Kenneth Barnes is free.
Editor Lee Gardner responds: Refusing a drug test while incarcerated is grounds for punishment in most penal institutions, a policy court decisions have previously upheld.
Barnes Not Home for Christmas
I was hoping since the girl who falsely accused my son Kenneth Barnes of having sex with her almost 12 years ago and recently recanted that perhaps he might be home with us for Christmas.
I wrote to Chairman David Blumberg at the Maryland Parole Commission and thought that since Ken would no longer be considered a danger to the community that they would reinstate his parole. He has served almost two years in prison already for something he never did and has seven months to go.
But Mr. Blumberg wrote back saying that he "discussed this with Commissioner [Jasper] Clay" and that "he feels strongly that unless the sentence structure regarding the initial conviction is modified or amended his original decision will stand."
Gov. Marvin Mandel took the same kind of plea my son did and was considered guilty and he was given a pardon. Does anyone else think that this is an injustice that my son, who was innocent and never a danger to anyone, should have to remain in a segregated cell in prison ?
I want to ask anyone who cares about this terrible injustice to please write or call the governor and request that at least Ken's parole be reinstated so that he can come home with his family and receive the treatment we know he will need. We would continue to pursue the legal channels to clear his name if he is released.
My thanks and appreciation to anyone who does try to help.
"Feral" Cat Ordinance Will Be Ineffective
In response to your article ("Herding Cats," Mobtown Beat, Dec. 5), I feel compelled to provide more information on several important issues.
City Health Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein's statement that "the change in law has the potential to reduce cases of rabies" needs clarification. The occurrence of rabies in cats and the transmission of rabies from cats to humans is very small and certainly would not be a reason to "change the law." Furthermore, for cats to have effective immunity they must receive a booster shot after the initial vaccination and be revaccinated every three years thereafter in order to comply with the current law for all cats. Cats that are trapped and released only receive one vaccination and thus would not have adequate protection or comply with current law.
More importantly, however, are other diseases common in outdoor cats and unrelated to the benefits of being altered.
Distemper/respiratory combination vaccines may provide lifelong immunity against distemper as current research suggests, but provide only temporary protection against respiratory illness such as rhinotrachetis and calici viruses. Highly contagious to other cats, they can kill cats and kittens, unaltered or not. Unsanitary, often filthy conditions at feeding sites, insufficient food, and lack of shelter make outdoor cats even more vulnerable to these illnesses. In addition, external and internal parasitic infestations, even when treated at time of surgery, will reoccur and cause much suffering or death.
Alley Cat Allies President Becky Robinson's statement that "killing the cats merely makes room for new ones" is only rhetoric. If 10 cats are removed from an area sparsely populated by free-roaming cats and no artificial food source is present, new cats will not move into that area. If 10 cats are removed from an area heavily populated by free roaming cats and several artificial food sources, new cats will certainly move in! The same principles apply to "managed" groups of cats: New cats will join them if there are more cats than the number of cats in the "colony." New cats are harder and sometimes impossible to trap because of roaming behavior and will start the cycle again.
Even if all 180,000 free-roaming cats could be trapped and released, another 185,000 are kept as pets. A large number of these are unaltered "fuzzies" waiting to get out! Their owners will happily comply with their desires, adding a new supply to the streets and alleys!
It is difficult for me, as a nurse, to comprehend why a society that created the problem of overpopulation and abandonment insists on treating the symptom of the disease and not the cause!
In the "human" world, such actions would be considered incompetence, negligence, and malpractice. Somehow the same standards are not applied to the "cat" world.
Cats will continue to be killed and will be allowed to live and die outdoors because there are too many. Even so, we have the resources to prevent them from being born in the first place.
Thank you for putting This Modern World in the front of City Paper ("Sparky Sucks!" The Mail, Dec. 5). It's the first thing I look for when I pick up the paper. Week after week, Tom Tomorrow shines a spotlight on the misinformation and hypocrisy that are hallmarks of the Republican Party. It's well known that modern-day conservatives prefer right-wing spin to facts, and the barbed satire of Tom Tomorrow effectively helps set the record straight in a concise, humorous, and entertaining manner. With the Republican Party around, Mr. Tomorrow is assured of having plenty of material to work with for years to come.
Long live Sparky!
D. Keith Henderson
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201