- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Do you know where your teens are?

I recently read the column “Save the Children” (Op-Ed, April 29), and I agree with Deborah Simmons. It’s part of a parent’s responsibility to have his or her children home at a specific time, especially if they are young teens. Parents who let their children stay out till the wee hours obviously don’t care about the dangers and risks their children might face.

Not only should they care about what time their children come home, but they should be more aware of the people with whom their children are hanging out and the places where they are hanging out. Many young teens, like Lavelle Jones, who died from a gunshot to the head while out late at night, are in great danger; the chances that children under age 18 will be at the wrong place at the wrong time increase significantly. It is a parent’s responsibility to keep track of his or her children’s curfews, even if the children are 18 years old.

Children depend on their parents to guide them and teach them what’s wrong and what’s right, so the parents should be encouraged to talk to their children about the many dangers and risks they could confront late at night or early in the morning.



U.S., Brazil and law enforcement

I was surprised and dismayed to read Monday’s Commentary column “Praise for piracy?” by Kenneth Adelman. With all due respect, the text is based on a series of gross misperceptions and distorted arguments.

I do not think I need to say much about the references to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Mr. da Silva’s historical struggle for social justice, his long-standing commitment to democracy and his credentials as a consistent and innovative world leader speak for themselves.

Having said that, let me clarify the nature and the dynamic of the relations between Brazil and the United States. Although, of course, it is only natural that our two nations have different views and outlooks on some international issues, the fact is that there is fundamental convergence in our support for democracy.

Brazil has been a bulwark of stability in its region. Presidents da Silva and Bush have developed a very friendly relationship and a smooth and fruitful dialogue. Our governments consult and work together on a wide range of subjects.

They understand and respect each other. Besides the many elements that have been at the core of the friendship between Brazil and the United States for almost two centuries, those are the factors that today underlie this particularly positive stage of our bilateral relationship.

As regards Mr. Adelman’s allusions to intellectual property rights, I would like to stress that combating piracy is a national priority in Brazil, one that is shared by the Brazilian executive authorities, Congress, civil society and the business sector.

In October 2004, a new National Council for Combating Piracy and Intellectual Property Crimes was established. The council, headed by the deputy minister of justice, and with significant private-sector representation, is a watershed in the coordination of initiatives and actions among different governmental agencies and the private sector.

More law enforcement actions have been taken in the area of intellectual property rights in recent months and years than at any other time. Seizure and raids have been significantly increased.

As for the specific issue of drug patents, I must underline that it is an important component of a much broader policy Brazil has put together to fight against AIDS. This policy, of which we are very proud, has produced results at both the prevention and treatment levels that are recognized all over the world.

The intellectual property rights dimension of its programs is fully consistent with international law. The Doha Declaration on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Properties and public health leaves no doubt about that.



Embassy of Brazil


The right to resist occupation

I find it hard to reconcile the concern expressed in your article “Latin-Arab summit worries U.S., Israel” (Page 1, Sunday) that the Latin-Arab summit might “back the rights of peoples to resist occupation” with the claim of President Bush to support “freedom and democracy” and the claim of Israel to be the only democracy in the Middle East.

The fundamental rights of occupied people to resist occupation have been enshrined in international law and are the basis on which both Israel and the United States were founded. What is the problem with the gander enjoying the same rights? Or does it only apply to white people?


Brighton, England

Women on the front lines

It is long overdue for the U.S. Department of Defense to stop the double talk when it comes to women in combat (“Stealth plan for women in combat,” Commentary, Sunday).

After years of working to provide women with an abundance of opportunities within the ranks, it is time to finally and truly “level the playing field” for everyone. If Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker and other leaders feel so strongly that women can perform on an equal level on the battlefield with their male counterparts, it is time to bring that reality home for all Americans, with women finally occupying an equal place on the Selective Service rosters.

After all, as Gen. Schoomaker so confidently asserted, with women already in uniform, “We have a moral responsibility to prepare those women that are serving in our Armed Forces … by providing them with the warrior skills and tasks that are required.”

One can only draw from Gen. Schoomaker’s remarks that women need only be trained to be combat-ready. If the general feels so confident in his opinion, and given our societal desire for true sexual equality and the liberation of women from the socially created barriers that have prevented them from full participation in American life, it is time for the country and the military leadership to end the hypocrisy of its stance toward the abilities of women for full military service.

For American men who must be ready to be placed in harm’s way — by law — should the call come, it seems only logical, given the confidence of the Army leadership in the combat abilities of all women, that the time has come to end the discrimination of the Selective Service.

After all, it is inherently unequal to segregate one group of Americans from opportunities for service that all Americans — according to the leadership of the U.S. Army — are more than capable of performing.



Having served in Vietnam, I know that in modern warfare, there are no “front lines” because everywhere is a combat area (“Women in combat,” Letters, Monday). Our medical unit, after coming under fire and also having one of the “support” units lose a soldier at our compound gate, applied for the combat medics badge. We were told we were ineligible because we were not in a line unit on the “front.”

Our women don’t need to be in harm’s way if it can be helped, and our men don’t need to have the additional problem of being concerned with how to protect the fairer sex. Looking out for the brotherhood of soldiers is all too much.


Greenwood, Miss.

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