Postmarks

Our readers talk back.


Correction Requested

Dear Mr. Hightower:

I am writing to request immediate correction of inaccurate references to Accenture in your June 27, 2003, "Hightower Report," published in The Austin Chronicle under the headline, "Tax Cheats Get Corporate Welfare." I also strongly object to the tone and substance of your mischaracterization of our company.

The inclusion of Accenture among companies that have moved their headquarters to Bermuda or other so-called tax havens is incorrect. Accenture has been unfairly and inaccurately accused of "inverting" -- moving its place of incorporation from the United States to Bermuda to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Accenture did not undertake a U.S. corporate inversion. In fact, Accenture is not and never has been a U.S.-based or U.S.-operated organization and has never operated under a U.S. parent corporation or partnership.

The U.S. General Accounting Office supports this position. A recent GAO report on the top federal government contractors found that Accenture is not one of the companies that engaged in a transaction that could be characterized as an inversion. In fact, James R. White, the GAO's director of tax issues, stated in media coverage of the report that the GAO applied "the Treasury's use of the term inversion ... and since Accenture didn't have a corporate structure to begin with, it didn't have a corporate structure to invert."

Indeed, it is a fact that Accenture did not incorporate prior to 2001. The GAO provides a brief history of Accenture's preincorporation operation, explaining that Accenture was a series of international partnerships operating through a Swiss entity. You can find the GAO report at www.reform.house.gov/min/pdfs/pdf_inves/pdf_admin_gao_expat_companies_rep.pdf.

Most important, Accenture pays, and has always paid, its fair share of taxes in each of the 47 countries in which it generates income, including the United States. In fact, our disclosed effective tax rate is high compared with most U.S. companies.

For the record, Accenture and Arthur Andersen have been separate legal entities and have operated independently since 1989, when Accenture, then known as Andersen Consulting, was formed. In 1990, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission recognized that Accenture was a legal entity distinct from Arthur Andersen. In the early 1990s, Arthur Andersen formed its own consulting practice, which was distinct and separate from Accenture's business.

In addition, I would like to call your attention to the fact that on May 29, 2003, the Associated Press issued a correction to an article that first published the "$662 million in federal contracts" figure that you reference, as well as to its error in associating Accenture with Arthur Andersen.

Roxanne Taylor

Partner, Corporate Communications

Accenture

[News Editor Michael King replies: According to the Associated Press correction Roxanne Taylor cites: Accenture received only $440.9 million in federal contracts last year, and Accenture has always been foreign-based, since it was formed from a group of partnerships and corporations coordinated through a Switzerland-based company called Andersen Consulting, which itself had split years earlier from the Chicago-based Arthur Andersen accounting firm.]


East Austin Setting Sights High

Editor:

I commend the Chronicle and Lauri Apple on the cover story about the emerging Saltillo District ["Twenty Years of Battle in the Barrio," June 27]. It is true that Plaza Saltillo has been underutilized. However, as the Chronicle points out, this is sure to change. The plaza is already an important symbol for hope and civic pride in East Austin. I stand by my comments to Ms. Apple that the city would get more civic return and achieve a wider range of public goals over the long haul by focusing major public investments in economically emerging areas (i.e., Saltillo District) over highly developed areas (i.e., Domain). This is not meant to disparage the Domain in any way, just to suggest that retail development in northwest Austin may not actually need public investment.

Despite this, I want to make sure that readers understand the degree to which city leaders are supportive of economic development in East Austin. Without the leadership of the City Council and city staff, Plaza Saltillo and everything else that is poised to happen would be sunk. Thanks to Austan Librach and his team, the concept of "Great Streets" is jumping the highway to East Austin for the very first time. Paul Hilgers and his housing team's "out-of-the-box" thinking helped us navigate several tricky issues and secure our financing on the Pedernales. We also found the supposedly infamous site plan process to be very navigable, predictable, and business friendly.

Finally, we are very grateful that during a difficult budget season, City Manager Futrell found time to make our project and East Austin redevelopment a priority. As anyone who has ever had Toby as their advocate on any issue can attest, she gets results.

Sincerely,

Larry Warshaw


Not Just Nader Voters to Blame

Editor:

With his typical self-righteousness, Louis Black blames Nader voters for Bush's election["Page Two," June 13]. But why are Nader voters exclusively to blame, and not:

1) The 308,000 Florida Democrats who voted for Bush? (Only 24,000 Florida Dems voted for Nader.)

2) The Democratic Party, which didn't challenge the unfair election procedures?

3) The Supreme Court, which unfairly handed the election to Bush?

4) Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state who threw blacks and other liberal voters off the rolls?

5) The citizens who didn't vote at all, who could have given Gore a 75% to 25% victory over Bush?

6) The Florida voters who chose Monica Moorehead of the Workers' World Party, whose votes would have elected Gore?

7) Gore, for failing to inspire voters with a lame record, lame positions, and a lame campaign?

8) The nearly 50% of voters who voted for Bush?

I'm looking forward to Louis Black's explanation of why these parties are all blameless while Nader voters are exclusively responsible for the outcome of the election.

Black also seems to miss two other points: You don't just add Nader votes to Gore's column anyway, because if Nader hadn't run, then the sizable number of Republican Nader voters would have voted for Bush, not Gore, and many of the remaining Nader voters wouldn't have voted at all. (And had they not voted at all, that would apparently be OK with Black as he blames only Nader voters and not nonvoters.)

And need I remind Black that Bush did not fairly win Florida, or the presidency of the United States anyway? When the election was stolen, what does it even matter who voted for whom?

Please see a more cogent analysis of this issue at: www.commondreams.org/views/112800-108.htm.

Michael Bluejay


PODER Fighting the Good Fight

Editor:

[Re: "Twenty Years of Battle in the Barrio," June 27]

PODER has been working to address and correct injustices imposed on our communities for decades and some for centuries. We have battled transnational oil corporations as well as national corporations such as BFI. PODER has been successful in relocating these hazardous facilities from our communities. We are presently working to close the city of Austin's Holly Power Plant. Our children and area residents have been and are currently exposed to dangerous emissions. Serious health issues exist in our barrios and deaths have occurred due to the lack of quality of life [that] many others take for granted. These are the real life and death battles PODER is not afraid to address and correct.

PODER has the Young Scholars for Justice program, which informs and trains our youth to be involved in community issues. The YSJ has brought various improvements to the community.

In March 2003, PODER and area residents were successful in rezoning more than 600 properties in the Govalle/Johnston Terrace Neighborhood Plan -- no other neighborhood plan has or will make such rezoning. This was a huge victory for our community.

PODER has worked for years to form bridges with mainstream environmental groups, universities, and individuals on the west side of I-35 and the Chronicle seems to want to tear those bridges down. The Chronicle should write about the positive accomplishments our communities have made.

My brother Sabino Renteria and I may address societal injustices differently, but we have a great family love that runs deeper than barrio chismes covered in the above story.

Siempre en la Lucha,

Susana Almanza

PODER


Read Up on Medical Marijuana

Editor:

[Re: "The Missoula Study," June 20, reference to Randall Robinson]

The reference should be to the late Robert Randall, not to Randall Robinson, who is, I believe, an African-American political activist who was instrumental in bringing about American divestiture in South Africa during apartheid.

The late Robert Randall, with his partner Alice O'Leary, is largely responsible for launching the movement for medical cannabis; without him, the IND program would have been terminated long before it was, there would have been no wave of state legislation in the 1980s, and none of the survivors in the "Missoula Study" would have received their cannabis.

It's a shame that so few people now know the stories of so many people that Bob and Alice supported through the original Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, operated from their Washington, D.C., home.

I cannot highly enough recommend Randall and O'Leary's Marijuana Rx: The Patients Fight for Medicinal Pot (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1998). It's right up there with Randy Shilts' And the Band Played On in exposing the ignorant, hateful underbelly of drug policy in America.

There won't be a TV movie -- the drug czar would object, and the advertisers would hear all about it -- so anyone who cares to put even a moment's thought to medical cannabis in America needs to read this to have any idea what it has been like for people who, like Bob, awoke one day on the other side of the looking glass.

Regards,

R.D. Winthrop

[Michael King replies: Mr. Winthrop is of course correct about Robert Randall, and I can only plead that brain lock at deadline must have led me to type the name "Randall Robinson." His letter allows me to add a correction provided by George McMahon, the subject of "A Quarter Ounce a Day." Concerning the Missoula Study's conclusion that all the study patients needed to occasionally supplement their supplies of government-issue marijuana by other means, McMahon writes: "I have had periods of slow delivery, but have not supplemented my government marijuana ever. Though I told the Missoula Study folks this, they apparently did not believe me. So all my years of not doing so were for nothing. I would appreciate your help in stopping this idea. I really have smoked bad government marijuana and only that, for so long, only to prove that it works."]


Put Yourself in Cop Shoes

Editor,

Mike Clark-Madison's recent column pertaining to Jessie Owens' death by police gunfire was incomplete, shortsighted, and contained at least one major flaw in its logical underpinnings ["Austin@Large," June 27]. Jessie Owens was not just another law-abiding citizen. Most of us have never stolen one car much less numerous ones, as Owens did, nor have we been perpetrators of domestic violence as the Austin American-Statesman reported in a recent article. I can hear the howls already, but of course I am not implying that he deserved to be killed, only pointing out certain facts of character and past behaviors that would be relevant in a court and therefore should have been given some mention.

Try putting yourself in the position of the police officer. If it happened as he reported -- and this is a mighty big "if," one deserving a full, uncompromising investigation -- and I am in his shoes, I am pulling the trigger also. In a scenario of me vs. another where the stake is my life or his, I'll choose mine. How many can honestly say that they wouldn't do the same? Mr. Clark's refrain of "Five shots. Close range" did have an effect though and made me wonder just how a person being dragged down the street manages to get off five shots that accurately. I cannot believe that the police training is that good.

The analogy that this situation, if it occurred between two private citizens, would lead to manslaughter charges against the policeman is worthless. A little further thought on the matter reveals the flaws inherent in such an argument. If a "regular" citizen (one not involved in law enforcement) breaks into my house I have the right to defend myself, by lethal force if necessary, and it is quite probable that I would walk away with no punishment. Yet if a policeman with a search warrant busts through the door and I use the same force, the result would be quite different.

I firmly believe that all law enforcement need strong citizen oversight in order to keep them from abusing their powers, but to try and achieve that by spurious, sophomoric reporting is wrong. Try a little harder next time.

Sincerely,

David Kendall


Never Forget Keith Ferguson!

Editor:

It is not often the late Keith Ferguson gets a mention in the Chronicle these days; however, I search the latest issue every Friday evening via the Internet, just in case. Therefore it was heartening to read Don Bennett's comments on El Guero as "the most underrated bass player to ever live in Austin" ["Mr. Bass Man," June 20]. I totally agree, but would add the world in general. Most blues guitarists choose either Eric, Jimi, or SRV as their god. Most blues bass players have only one God -- Keith Ferguson!

Never to be forgotten.

Ferguson always,

Neil Meldrum

Banchory, Scotland


Eyewitness Account

Hello Jordan,

Thanks for the story on the hit-and-run at the Gay Pride Parade ["APD Faulted in Hit-and-Run," June 20]. But to APD spokesman Kevin Buchman, I say (in the words of Col. Sherman Potter) "Horse Hockey." I was at the very beginning of the parade. As the first elements of the parade hit Fourth & Lavaca, I and a half-dozen friends moved into position at the corner, and I began directing traffic almost immediately (within two minutes). I (and the assorted friends present at the intersection) can assure Mr. Buchman I did not see any APD officer on duty at Fourth & Lavaca during the entire duration of the parade.

Two police officers and a fireman in a fire truck drove by (one cop paused briefly, got out of the car, got back in, then drove north on Lavaca), but the only person I saw directing traffic on that corner during the entire parade was a big guy in a Hawaiian shirt. Me.

Somebody blew it, and I deeply resent the implication from someone who was not there that I might be mistaken, especially when it smacks of an attempt to imply that no problem existed when a very real public safety peril did.

Thanks again for the story,

Steve Basile


Parts of 'Lost Weekend' Found

Editor:

In regards to the "Lost Weekend" article by Shawn Badgley [June 27], I was on the team of "a large shirtless man named Jonah," and the point must be made that he did not, in any way, bloody the nose of Paul Whitehead Jr. I may have been drunk, but I was not so drunk that I would not notice if my friend/teammate punched somebody. And Jonah may have been drunk, but not so drunk that he'd punch a total stranger. I imagine there would have been a huge commotion at the party had this happened, and there wasn't one. It's more likely that this guy got so drunk that he fell down and bloodied his own nose. Let's get the facts straight.

Thanx,

Eric Johnson


Austin Blows in the Urban Development Department

Dear Chronicle editors,

Why is it that Austin always blows it in the urban development department? It seems that every time a new urban center starts to develop that might evolve into its own charming destination/walking-area/local-color center, the city gives permission to some corporate behemoth to build something hideous. I've seen this several times since I moved here seven years ago from Chicago. For example, the huge self-storage facility on West Fifth/Sixth streets in the middle of a strip of restaurants and retail shops. Incomprehensible.

Now it appears the city is about to do it again, this time to South Austin. Over the past few years, the area around Bluebonnet and South Lamar has started to acquire its own cachet and is turning into its own little urban center with Artz's Rib House, Mr. Natural, Taco X--Press, and the eagerly awaited Russell's Coffee Shop. Now Walgreens is petitioning the city to build a Mega-Walgreens on that very corner, complete with a huge parking lot, 90% impervious cover, and big box retail store. This will destroy the burgeoning charm of the neighborhood, disrupt the traffic flow, and only help to turn South Lamar into another nondescript strip of urban sprawl and soulless retail.

There is no need for this new store. All my Walgreens needs are currently met by the current Walgreens down the street. It fits a nice niche in the neighborhood. If this new Mega-Walgreens is allowed to be built, I'll be taking all my business down to the Target down on Ben White. If Walgreens needs a bigger store, there is the perfectly fine (and totally empty) old Fiesta store in Lamar Plaza.

Why can't the city see that it is in its best interest to foster the local business/funkiness that Austin is so famous for rather than let our ambience get bulldozed by another corporate box store?

Make your voice heard by coming to the City Council meeting on Thursday, July 17 at the Lower Colorado River Authority boardroom, Hancock Building, 3700 Lake Austin Blvd.

Thank you,

Teresa Davidson, Ph.D.


Praising McCulloh

Dear Chronicle,

Many thanks for the story about Russell McCulloh, Austin's classical music guru ["Life After the Classical Section," June 27]. It was great to see him recognized. I lived within a block of "his" store during its many incarnations, spanning some 20 years. Here are a few of my favorite Russell anecdotes: On one of the last heavy snow days I can remember (January 1984), the store was open, and Russell recommended the 1961 vinyl collection of Herbert von Karajan's nine-symphony Beethoven cycle (over various others). I bought it, skidded on sleet back to my home, and spent the day concurring with his assessment. I still think it's the most satisfying.

He was the only one in town to let me know what had happened to Walter (now Wendy) Carlos (of Clockwork Orange fame) and remembered me when the past catalog came into re-release (Sonic Seasonings on CD, Russell ... thank you!). When I lamented an omission in the CBS Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky series on CD, he knew exactly which piece I was talking about and promised to notify me when it came out. The man's knowledge isn't just encyclopedic, it's warm and communal, and if there's any justice in this world, he'll be sought out by a store that wants the best there is to offer.

To Russell, I say: Any real "Top 10 of Austin" would have to include your name.

With gratitude,

David Weems


All Hail DeLay!

Editor:

Has anyone ever seen Rick Perry speak while Tom DeLay is drinking a glass of water? I thought not.

I think we could save a bundle on redistricting if we just did a couple of very simple things. First, abolish the position of governor and stipulate that the U.S. Representative from Sugar Land will run the state. Second, get rid of that whole inconvenient electoral process and let said rep from Sugar Land appoint all our state representatives.

Isn't that what this redistricting episode is about? So why waste $1.7 million on it?

Robert L. Blau


Bad Timing for the Smoking Ban

Editor:

I just finished reading "Postmarks" [June 27], and I'm somewhat surprised to see that there are three letters in support of the ban. The first is concerned with the health of the employees. Moronic when most, or at least many, bartenders and restaurant employees smoke. In fact most restaurants are nonsmoking anyway, so we are really only talking about bars. I think it is safe to say bar employees like their jobs. Why else would you work from 7pm to 3am? The second talks of how great the ban is. She states, "I strongly believe that this ban will have a positive impact on our local economy and the live music scene in the future." Obviously it won't. Statistics typically don't lie. Especially when they are concrete ones such as "liquor sales." Each city that has implemented a smoking ban has seen a drop in liquor sales (roughly 30% depending on which city you're looking at). Many bars cannot handle this loss, or do but with sacrifices (job cuts would be first in this list). The third talks of how he can now go see live music once the ban takes effect. Good for him, I guess. For every one new concertgoer, there will be one to three who don't go.

The economy sucks. Hopefully Bush's tax cut will have trickle down effects as he anticipates, and the economy will pick up (I'm still waiting for the first one back in 2001 to provide as promised). But until then we must be stupid to jeopardize our club scene with this ban. Those of you who hate the health risks, well I hope you don't eat fast food. In case it slipped by you, obesity kills more people than smoking. Also, lungs heal, so breathing in unwanted smoke does not mean death in five years.

Ryan Dylla


Ranting About the RAVE Act

Editor:

Apparently the DEA is using the RAVE Act to target political groups that they don't like ("Will RAVE Act Stomp Out Drugs -- Or Dissent?," June 20).

Drug use occurs everyday at concerts and other events around the country.

It is a miscarriage of justice that the DEA would use the law to only target events that advocate for changes in drug policy.

It's abhorrent that American taxpayers' money is being used to stifle free speech and political activity. Regardless, the RAVE Act does nothing to reduce the harms associated with substance abuse. It only puts youth at greater danger by holding event organizers negligent for adopting effective harm reduction techniques like providing water or "chill out" rooms where dancers can relax.

The RAVE Act should be repealed immediately and the DEA's budget should be reduced by the amount it spent on this political charade.

Sincerely,

Tom Angell

Board of Directors,

Students for Sensible Drug Policy

www.ssdp.org


DEA Wasting Money and Losing Drug War

Dear Editor,

As the federal Drug Enforcement Administration celebrates its 30th anniversary this July, the U.S. Senate is considering the nomination of Karen Tandy as the DEA's first female administrator. This should call for a critical review of the DEA's record, but the Senate Judiciary Committee's once-over-lightly June 25 hearing on Tandy's nomination gave no hint that anyone is willing to ask the necessary questions.

The DEA has squandered vast resources arresting medical marijuana patients and caregivers -- people whose only crime is trying to obtain relief from the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, and other terrible illnesses.

Meanwhile, the clearest measure of the DEA's effectiveness -- availability of illegal drugs -- demonstrates utter failure. Since 1975 the federal government has funded "Monitoring the Future," a survey of teen drug use. That first year, 87.8% of high school seniors said that marijuana was "easy to get." In 2002 -- some 15 million marijuana arrests later -- the figure was 87.2%. Cocaine and heroin were easier for teens to obtain in 2002 than in 1975.

It is time our elected officials did some serious rethinking of anti-drug strategies and priorities. But don't hold your breath.

Sincerely,

Bruce Mirken

Director of Communications

Marijuana Policy Project

bruce.mirken@mpp.org


Do the Bel-Airs Still Play?

Editor:

Do they [Texas Bel-airs] still play out in Austin? Are they still playing anywhere?

Thanks

Ryan Hill


Smokers Under Siege

Editor:

I think the good people of Austin should know that there is a growing sentiment of siege among those of us that do smoke.

While I do agree to have restaurants as nonsmoking (and I am still a mild smoker) I stand against a total ban in Austin. Austin is so large that a total smoking ban in Austin is a total smoking ban in Travis County.

Well ... if it's all or nothing, if this total smoking ban goes into effect, then I and others will begin a referendum to ban barbecues.

That's right ... barbecues put out smoke in the environment, and I find it offensive. Barbecues generate carcinogenic substances in meats when grilling. And finally, barbecue smokers many times are burning mesquite ... we don't like mesquite. I personally am allergic to most woods and that includes the oils in the smoke that is released in the environment. It can cause an asthma attack. And it should be banned as a health hazard.

All in all ... if you are to ban smoke in Austin then we will also start a referendum to ban: barbecues, cars, trucks, manufacturing plants such as wafer fabs, the power companies, your fireplaces in your homes.

We -- the people who do not bother you yet have been placed under siege -- will start a referendum to ban all activities that generate smoke.

Now ... while this letter is somewhat "tongue in cheek," it is also serious in intent.

A total ban on smoking will eventually result in lines being drawn in Travis County. The Legislature should ruminate on that -- and the effects their behavior will have on the voting block come next Election Day -- while they decide on the total smoking-ban bill.

Len Bucuvalas


Cop Code Conservancy

Mr. Louis,

None of us are perfect, but does that in and of itself justify police brutality? It's nothing short of a travesty when those duly sworn to keep the peace are in fact the ones disturbing it. Once again, however, we're told about the isolated event that occurred, and we've taken care of the problem ["Naked City," June 27].

We got our man. Well, what we have here is the tip of the problem. Don't misunderstand me, [to] get beaten unconscious is not fun for most of us, but what is the true crux of the matter is that we all know this occurs across our fair land all too often, now it's hit home.

To think about all of their fellow officers who could really make a difference, yet decide to, or should I say, fail to speak out against their fellow officers because, and this is truly sad, it's a cop code.

Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Lie mommy! I'm gonna lie, the cops do it.

Susannah Alabama Ohltorf ...


We're Here! We're Libertarian!

Editor:

I congratulate the U.S. Supreme Court on its decision to strike down Texas' sodomy law. As a gay man and a Libertarian, I support the court's decision that there is a right to privacy within one's home. While most people assume they are free to do what they wish while in their own residences as long as they don't hurt anyone else, the government often does not make that same assumption.

Republicans often talk about "limiting government." Is that true? The Republicans in the last Legislative session had no problem forcing the state further into peoples' lives if it advanced the party's social and moral agenda. Women now have to wait 24 hours before terminating a pregnancy, while having to review all sorts of dubious and medically questionable state propaganda. Children will now have to sit through a thinly disguised state-mandated prayer at the beginning of their school day. The Legislature took time away from all sorts of other pressing problems to declare that marriage is solely between a woman and a man.

The so-called "homosexual agenda" (which consists primarily of conservative desires like wanting to get married and be able to serve openly in the military) has nothing on the Republican Party moral agenda. While the Republicans hypocritically claim to be for limiting the scope of government, it has been under their watch that the federal budget deficit has ballooned faster than any time in American history. My advice to a voter who is looking for a candidate who will consistently support getting the government out of your bedroom, your checkbook, and your life: Vote Libertarian.

Robert Hansen


Support Anti-Idling Laws

Editor:

Can cleaner air for Austin actually be on the horizon? Maybe. Our new mayor, Will Wynn, deserves recognition for his leadership and commitment at the recent Solar Austin Town Forum to renewable energy sources and related job creation.

It's a huge relief to see that environmental concerns are not, as Rush Limbaugh might chortle, just for "eco-Nazis" anymore. When major polluters such as diesel engine manufacturers sit on panels with politicians and environmental activists, you know a sea change in thinking is occurring. Of course, it helps that the EPA is holding their feet to the fire with regulatory and economic threats.

We've all seen Austin's skies deteriorate in recent years. It seems that most of us accept acrid air as an inevitable fact of urban living. But the reality is, folks, that we don't have to live this way.

One solution to reducing toxic air costs nothing and produces immediate results: Stop idling vehicles more than a few minutes.

Everyday, for example, lines of buses sit idling and empty at the Bob Bullock State History Museum, in some instances for hours, pumping clouds of highly toxic diesel exhaust into the air as children and elderly stroll by. Why do we accept this as the normal way to live? Why do these machines take precedence over our relatively fragile bodies? Why don't the companies that operate these vehicles give a damn? I've asked several to change their idling policy. They respond that "the air-conditioners need to run for the comfort of our passengers." Hell, I'd rather breathe than be cool. This is, after all, Texas. Cool the buses off shortly before the passengers return.

Look around out there. Smell the air. Notice something wafting by and choking you? Diesel trucks, buses, and pickups idle constantly throughout the city. EPA studies show -- and direct experience confirms -- that diesel exhaust particles are especially acrid and injurious. Roll down your window sometime behind a Capital Metro diesel bus or one of these new diesel pickups and see if the emissions don't constrict your breathing much longer than regular gasoline fumes.

Many states and cities, including Houston, have anti-idling laws. Eventually Texas will, too, when enough people get sick of breathing toxic air and speak up. Turn off your engines, and don't hesitate to ask others to do the same. We don't have to live this way.

Michael G. Albrecht


Applause for the Overturn of Sodomy Law

Editor:

The Supreme Court decision to overturn the Texas sodomy law is important for gay Texans not because we were actively prosecuted under section 21.06 of the Penal Code; but because it stigmatized us.

Every gay young adult, every gay man and woman, knew that how we expressed our love was a criminal offense. No matter how emotionally "well-adjusted," and no matter how exemplary our lives became, in Texas we knew we were criminals in the eyes of the Legislature. It was a psychological burden.

The decision was overturned based on the "due process clause" of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That ties the gay rights movement to the greater civil rights struggle. In the history of civil rights, the courts have always been the advocates of fairness for people the democratic process disenfranchised. It is a proud day when American courts overturn antiquated ideas about morality and basic fairness.

So I celebrate the "due process clause" of our Constitution, guaranteeing all U.S. citizens "life, liberty, [and] property." And as far as the "homosexual agenda" noted in Justice Scalia's dissent, I invite everyone gay and straight to participate in our "agenda," including fabulous shopping, great food, beauty, fashion, family, and love.

A. Arro Smith


Iraq Becoming a Familiar Nightmare

Editor:

This is a nightmare I thought I would never see again in my life: a dead soldier (or two) one day, six more the next, a president with regal pretensions and no problem lying to us, the people, Congress, and the soldiers whose lives are on the line.

Vietnam was bad enough. Should we wait 10 years and then count the dead in Iraq?

It's funny how before the invasion the peace crowd was accused of not supporting the military. Really, they seem to be the only ones who care if they come home alive.

David Kahn


Wake Up Call: R&B Sucks!

Editor:

When did R&B become an acronym for rape and battery? Every day another so-called artist is in the news for some felony offense. These guys are thugs, period. They have no talent. Just steal someone else's song and spout some ignorant pep-squad bullshit over it, and you too can win a Grammy. Pay no attention to the dead woman with the half-eaten lung. Wake up folks. Are you really as stupid as the rest of the world thinks?

Mike La Badie

Manor


Understand Peace

Editor:

"Tipping the Scale."

Rumsfeld used this phrase when describing what would happen to Iraqi resistance once a certain point was reached, He's right about the way that works in war, but unfortunately this understanding isn't applied to peace. Tipping the scale toward peace is no small task, but neither is winning a war.

Rumsfeld's abilities to orchestrate the tools of the most advanced civilization ever known have proved to be quite skillful. It is sad that he cannot create peace so masterfully. He cannot do so because of his tactics and the strength of the tools before him. There are tools of war and tools of peace. We have very strong tools for war and very weak ones for peace. It is natural to reach for strengths, especially in a crisis.

Americans need to start understanding what we are working with here. We need to look further into our reality to better understand its entirety. Whether you sought peace or sought justice in the recent Iraqi crisis, open your eyes to the future before us. Our leaders do not possess the tools or tactics to lead in peace. They understand how to win war (e.g., they know what tips the scale), but they do not understand how to win peace.

To create and maintain peace, an understanding of what "tips the scale" must be found. We must also understand that the scales of peace and war are connected. Our understanding of how these two scales work drives the direction in which they tip.

When understanding is out of balance, we naturally lean toward that which we comprehend most. This should be realized and applied.

Understand peace. It's important.

Parker Jackson


Bottled Wastewater for Idiots

Dear Editor,

Who are the dumbasses? Today the suave host of Our Minuscule Forum on KLBJ-AM radio, Jeff Ward, announced the city is launching a bottled wastewater program. He asked: 1) whose dumbass idea was this, and 2) who was the dumbass who signed off on the project? Of course the wastewater department has gone ostrich, but I am sure your intrepid reporters can uncover the names of these people who plan to spend $8.90 per case for production and charge $6.00 per case for it. Shall we institute the annual Austin Dumbass awards, limited to 15,000 each year? But we require the names of these two winners to start with. Thank you.

David L. Kent

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Our readers talk back.

July 9, 2004

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A plethora of environmental concerns are argued in this week's letters to the editor.

March 31, 2000

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