- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 6, 2002

Let Brazil be

I am a student from Brazil who has been in the United States for just two months, and I am trying to get used to a different culture that I profoundly respect. And it is this simple word, respect, that I would like to talk about here.
In every newspaper article, there must be a commitment to the truth and, what is more, the people addressed in the article should be treated fairly. Both principles were ignored in Faith Whittlesey's column, "Brazil's gathering clouds" (Commentary, Tuesday).
If one accuses a presidential candidate of another country who is leading in the polls in this case, Luiz Inacio da Silva of being a terrorist sympathizer, one is also saying something against millions of people who agree with his projects for their country. And believe me, historically, Brazil is known as a pacific nation. Brazilians are known throughout the world not only by our wonderful soccer and carnival but also by being friendly with people of every nationality. Definitely, neither terrorism nor warmongering is in our culture.
What we want is to have a better country for the following generations, and I suppose it is a very noble objective. We want to have more than soccer and carnival; we want a solid economy, more social equality and better educational and health services for our people. Is this a sin? I do not think so. Maybe the person who will be chosen to govern our country is not the best, but we still have the right to elect whomever we want and to learn from our own experiences. What else is democracy?
The complete lack of respect this column showed for another nation's right to elect its own president is a shame. Besides, there is much more conjecture than hard evidence. Both the writer of this column and The Washington Times which published it are equally responsible for showing an unreal and disrespectful image of Brazilians, our goals for our country and our external relations with other countries.

Gainesville, Fla.

ICC treaty 'not a license for impunity'

In response to the worrisome note sounded in "EU to let members sign pacts on ICC" (Page 1, Tuesday), readers should be told that Article 98 of the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty is not a license for impunity.
The U.S. government claims its lobbying of other governments to sign bilateral agreements to prevent the surrender to the ICC of personnel accused of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity is authorized by Article 98 of the ICC treaty. These agreements, however, are anything but legitimate, as Article 98 (2) was never intended to serve as a license for undermining the court's jurisdiction.
Article 98 (2) was drafted to ensure that obligations under existing Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) would not conflict with obligations under the ICC treaty. While SOFAs assign responsibility for investigating and prosecuting crimes committed by members of the armed forces stationed in another country and require each country to provide the other with assistance in such investigations and prosecutions, the sole purpose of the agreements the United States is seeking is to prevent the ICC from exercising its jurisdiction.
Countries that enter into such agreements are not required to investigate and prosecute covered persons and surely will be under intense political pressure from the United States not to do so. The United States has made clear that it will only investigate and prosecute persons for the worst possible crimes in the world "when appropriate." Moreover, the United States does not have legislation defining all crimes in the ICC treaty as crimes under U.S. law when such crimes are committed abroad.
Thus, if the United States is unable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute, neither the ICC nor the courts of any country that enters into such an agreement can step in as courts of last resort. For this reason, the so-called Article 98 agreements are more aptly described as impunity agreements.

International justice specialist
Amnesty International USA

Healthy eating

Thank you for your article on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' (PETA) campaign to inspire overweight people to eat healthy food ("'Fats' grill veggie theory when PETA offers to take a load off," Page 1, Wednesday).
I don't know what the fuss is about. When I wanted to lose weight, my doctor suggested a vegan diet. I contacted PETA officials, and they were as helpful and encouraging as could be. I went vegan, lost 15 pounds and have kept them off ever since. It is common sense that a diet high in fruits, vegetables and grains is going to be healthier and less fattening than one based on cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizzas.
Instead of being defensive, people should try vegetarianism. I highly recommend the vegan recipe book that PETA distributes for free.

Takoma Park

'Hate' talk is still free speech

Neil F. Greenblum's letter objecting to an advertisement that appeared in Thursday's paper started out as a well-written criticism of the advertisement's offensive message ("Reader doesn't buy ad," Friday). However, his closing sentence, "The right to free speech and expression ends when incitement to hate begins," makes his letter far more chilling and offensive than the advertisement ("HOLOCAUST: FINAL JEWISH POGROM?") it condemns.
Direct incitement to violent action is one thing, but incitement to thought that is hateful or in some other way impassioned is the core of what free speech is about. Would Mr. Greenblum also designate hatred itself a thought crime? In the tension between free speech and censorship, racism is ontologically no different from any other "ism," be it conservatism, feminism or even the Judaism Mr. Greenblum defended. All are belief systems, world views, constructs of opinion. Yet, it's amazing how many Americans' allegiance to freedom of conscience is merely a function of whose ox is being gored.

Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Going nuclear on plant safety

Is it really "alarmist and irresponsible," as Ralph Beedle claims ("In defense of nuclear energy," Op-Ed, Wednesday), to point out that nuclear power plants remain vulnerable to terrorist attack? Let's forget "conjecture" and review the facts.
Multiple studies by some of the nation's leading laboratories, including Sandia National Laboratories and Argonne National Laboratory, have taken issue with the nuclear power industry's claim that the containment structures at nuclear power plants can withstand the impact of an airliner.
Furthermore, some of the most vulnerable sections of a plant - the control room, the spent-fuel pools and waste storage areas - are all outside the containment structure. Brookhaven National Laboratory concluded that a major release from a spent fuel pool could result in some 28,000 cancer deaths, $59 billion in damages and render 188 square miles uninhabitable.
A recent survey conducted by the Project on Government Oversight also belies the claim that security guards at nuclear power plants are adequately armed and skilled in counterterrorism tactics. The study found that these guards feared being outnumbered and outgunned by terrorists in an attack. This is supported by the results of force-on-force drills conducted by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in which nuclear power plants had a nearly 50 percent failure rate in defending against attacks.
The truth is that there is enough evidence to demonstrate continued vulnerability at the nation's nuclear power plants and none to suggest otherwise, since mock attack tests have been halted since September 11, 2001.

Communications associate
Safe Energy Communication Council

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