- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Kosovo part of ‘Greater Albania’

The photo caption for David R. Sands’ article “Serbia braces for a new nation” is very telling: “Shop owners in Prizren hung Albanian flags yesterday as Kosovo prepares to declare independence from Serbia” (World, Friday).

They’re raising Albanian flags in Kosovo. Albania is a neighboring country. Therefore, the odds are, there is a Greater Albania in the making.

The Albanian Muslims have a voracious appetite for more territory. That does not portend well for south Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro or even Greece.

Looks like theWest has opened up a real can of worms in Europe.

LIZ MILANOVICH

Edmonton, Alberta

Chavez innocent in 1992 coup

The Op-Ed column “Shills for Chavez” (Feb. 12) invoked history to make a claim that history simply does not support. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez did not, as the column says, murder civilians in the failed 1992 coup against the Perez administration. Instead, he halted the military act and famously told the nation on live television that the revolution was impossible, at least “for now.”

The 1992 coup was against a government that had slaughtered hundreds if not thousands of Venezuelans four years earlier, when it had repressed dissent after an economic shock. That event, known as the “Caracazo,” was the bloodiest in Venezuela’s recent history, not Mr. Chavez’s attempt to unseat the leader who caused it. The injustices of the 1989 repression inspired Mr. Chavez to fight for the poor. That did not make him a “terrorist” then, nor is he one now for sending heating oil aid to low-income U.S. citizens.

MEGAN MORRISSEY

Venezuela Information Office

Washington

What is an ‘illegal’ gun?

Accompanying the article “Mayors eye gun offender database” (Metropolitan, Friday) was a photo of a bunch of ordinary-looking guns described in the caption as “Illegal guns seized in Maryland.” My question is: What is an “illegal gun”? Is it a gun sold without proper papers or a gun used in a crime or what?

Those guns lying on the table look perfectly legal and innocent to me. How do I know they are not just props? If the guns are illegal, are not the pants worn by the perpetrators at the time of the crimes also illegal? For that matter, why aren’t the perpetrators lying on a table? They are the only ones who can perpetrate an illegal action.

Those guns will lie on that table for perpetuity unless someone picks them up and uses them. I can’t think of a single illegal action they can do of their own volition.

JOHN CULLOM

Catonsville, Md.

Second Amendment an individual right

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide D.C. v. Heller, the first case in more than 60 years in which the court will confront the meaning of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although Heller is about the constitutionality of the D.C. handgun ban, the court’s decision will have an impact far beyond the District (“Promises breached,” Op-Ed, Thursday).

The court must decide in Heller whether the Second Amendment secures a right for individuals to keep and bear arms or merely grants states the power to arm their militias, the National Guard. This latter view is called the “collective rights” theory.

A collective rights decision by the court would violate the contract by which Montana entered into statehood, called the Compact With the United States and archived at Article I of the Montana Constitution. When Montana and the United States entered into this bilateral contract in 1889, the U.S. approved the right to bear arms in the Montana Constitution, guaranteeing the right of “any person” to bear arms, clearly an individual right.

There was no assertion in 1889 that the Second Amendment was susceptible to a collective rights interpretation, and the parties to the contract understood the Second Amendment to be consistent with the declared Montana constitutional right of “any person” to bear arms.

As a bedrock principle of law, a contract must be honored so as to give effect to the intent of the contracting parties. A collective rights decision by the court in Heller would invoke an era of unilaterally revisable contracts by violating the statehood contract between the United States and Montana, and many other states.

Numerous Montana lawmakers have concurred in a resolution raising this contract-violation issue. It’s posted at progunleaders.org. The United States would do well to keep its contractual promise to the states that the Second Amendment secures an individual right now as it did upon execution of the statehood contract.

BRAD JOHNSON

Montana secretary of state

Helena, Mont.

Scared to debate

Sen. Barack Obama says he’s not ducking debates against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton because they’ve already debated 18 times, but the reality is that he has only been in a single one-on-one debate with her (“Clinton challenges Obama to debate policies,” Nation, Sunday). In that debate, she mopped the floor with him.

If Mr. Obama is too chicken to debate Mrs. Clinton, is he ready to lead America against Osama bin Laden? America needs more than just some fast-talking coward to fix our nation’s woes.

MARC PERKEL

San Bruno, Calif.

Dubious patent paradigm

The legislation introduced by Sens. Patrick J. Leahy and Orrin G. Hatch to reform the U.S. patent system is fundamentally flawed as it relates to medicines (“Meaningful patent reform,” Op-Ed, Friday).

Most notably, the bill’s calculation of the economic damages caused by patent infringement is inappropriate for drugs. Damage calculations would only theoretically consider the specific economic contribution a patented invention made to a product as opposed to considering the economic value of the product as a whole.

Though this paradigm makes sense in the case of, say, a specific kind of hinge on a car mirror, it doesn’t in the case of pharmaceuticals. One simply cannot parse out the added benefit of particular patented portions of a drug.

Reforms to the patent system need to take into account the unique needs of pharmaceutical innovation. If not, legislators might accidentally stem the tide of lifesaving drugs for this and future generations.

DR. BRYAN A. LIANG

Executive director and E. Donald Shapiro Distinguished Professor

Institute of Health Law Studies

California Western School of Law

San Diego


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