- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Repeal Section 211

Thank you for correcting your March 19 story "Showdown over U.S. Cuba policy nears," in which you reported that the newly formed Congressional Cuba working group was expected to "announce its support for a controversial trademark law known as Section 211." As you rightly note in your correction, members at that press conference on March 21 indicated they will seek the repeal of Section 211 and for good reason.
Section 211 is controversial because a Florida senator slipped it into mammoth legislation at the end of fiscal year 1998 after all floor and committee votes. Literally no one in Congress knew of the law's existence. It surely would not have passed a vote, because the law was enacted specifically to protect the Bermuda-based Bacardi company from a trademark suit brought by the French spirits company Pernod Ricard. Pernod Ricard brought suit because Bacardi began bottling a rum under the label Havana Club. The original owners of the mark, who left Cuba forty years ago but had renewed the trademark in the United States for some time, abandoned the trademark in 1973. The Cuban rum company Havana Club Holdings was legally granted the U.S. rights to the abandoned trademark in 1976. The Cuban company authorized Pernod Ricard to distribute Havana Club rum worldwide, and the French spirits company was undoubtedly biding its time until the U.S. market would be open to the Cuban rum.
Only after Pernod Ricard brought suit did Bacardi seek to buy the defunct trademark rights from the first owner of the trademark; only at this point was the U.S. legislative process brought in to halt a lawsuit against the powerful Bacardi company. The enactment of Section 211 ended that suit (the law blocks foreign entities' access to U.S. courts to defend their trademark rights) and caused the European Commission to challenge the U.S. law in the World Trade Organization (WTO). In fall 2001, the WTO dispute panel found Section 211 to be in violation of the WTO's trademark agreement.
There is no doubt that Congress will seek to repeal Section 211, which mandates that the U.S. depart from international trademark conventions of which we are a signatory. Members of Congress understand that our American trademarks branded products that could someday soon be sold in Cuba are in jeopardy if we continue to allow domestic political considerations in Florida to overshadow our obligation to uphold international intellectual property rights.

Center for International Policy

School drug-testing no quick fix for social ills

Upon reading Joyce Nalepka's plea for mandatory drug testing, one is left with the impression that this supposedly minor infringement on the freedom and dignity of our children would cure society of almost all its ills ("Just say no," Letters, March 23). Unfortunately, as with all would be utopia-makers, she is making a plea that is emotional, not logical.
False positive and negative results of drug testing occur. If you don't use drugs but for some reason test positive, no one will believe you. If you use drugs and test negative, you're going to keep your mouth shut. Thousands of young lives likely will be ruined by false positives, and teen drug use will continue because of false negatives.
I also wonder how prohibiting drug-using teens from taking part in character-building activities is supposed to help them and society as a whole. If I believed coercive tactics were effective, I would force drug-using teens to join the chess club or the football team, not deprive them of a chance to find something else to do.
Do we really want our children growing up believing that innocence, not guilt, needs to be proved?

Sunnyside, N.Y.

NEA more interested in politics than education

Seldom in my 76 years on this planet have I read five paragraphs of such hogwash as the March 23 letter from Bob Chase, president of the grossly misnamed National Education Association (NEA) ("Open and democratic, that's the NEA,"). I am sure, as Mr. Chase twice states, that the NEA is well within the law in what it does. The problem is that what the NEA does has less to do with education than with politics.
"The NEA does spend dues money to lobby Congress to improve the quality of public education," Mr. Chase writes. Balderdash. The NEA spends money paid in by its membership, and without the approval of the membership, to elect liberal Democrats to public office. That is what the NEA is about. That is virtually all that it is about. It makes not one bit of difference to Mr. Chase and the NEA bureaucracy how its members think their dues should be spent. The NEA belongs, body and soul, to the Democratic Party, and Mr. Chase isn't fooling anybody by trying to represent it any other way.


Environmentalism contradicts itself

In his March 31 Commentary column, "Taking the long view of a wide problem," Steve Chapman makes an astute observation, routinely ignored by establishment media: Environmentalists' two central principles their opposition to globalization and to pollution are contradictory. Globalization creates wealth, and wealthy societies are, as a rule, cleaner and healthier. Yet the environmentalists sink even to violence in opposing this engine of environmental improvement (see Seattle, Genoa, etc.).
This sentiment can be traced back to environmentalism's roots in 19th-century Romanticism or even its most recent reconfiguration from the 1970s' zero-population-growth movement, which was notorious for its unfulfilled doomsaying. "People are pollution" is the underlying philosophy, yielding attacks on all that facilitates population beyond the "sustainable" goal of 2 billion (which requires a global downsizing of about 70 percent). This is the common denominator among the anti-energy, anti-sprawl, anti-biotech and anti-globalization movements. Though people don't like to be told that 2 out of 3 of us must go, we are nonetheless susceptible to gloomy (and specious) claims that we have a destructive impact on our environment.
Recognize these groups' arguments for what they are: anti-people advocacy that would necessitate immense human suffering to achieve their goal.

Senior fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute

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