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Letters to the Editor

June 4, 2008


Published June 4, 2008 at 6:50 p.m.


Mia Calevro acknowledges that David Sleigh "has a job to do" [Letters, May 28]. Nonetheless, she is so repulsed by Brian Rooney that she wonders how Mr. Sleigh manages to get any rest. Her wonderment reveals a poor comprehension of the invaluable service that criminal defense attorneys provide. Unhappily, it is a failure that is broad-spread in our society.

It is not only the client who is betrayed when an attorney allows the client's rights to be violated. We all are betrayed. Laxity in the defense of a case allows precedent to be created that slowly but surely erodes the guarantees we rely upon to protect us from a powerful, abusive government. Surely the Bush administration ought to be proof enough of how that can occur. Is it really necessary to recite the litany?

But a second - and more subtle - service is provided by a vigilant defense. By assuring that every legal right is honored to the fullest, the defense attorney deprives the convicted defendant of any potential basis for an appeal. It is precisely that vigorous insistence that delivers to the guilty offender that which is so deserved. In Brian Rooney's case, that is all the remainder of his life in a cage where he will never again violate some young woman.

Ms. Calevro should instead be grateful for the fine work by Mr. Sleigh and all the other members of the criminal defense bar. They are our protectors.

Graydon Wilson



To understand Al Jazeera, know that Judah Pearl (Daniel Pearl's father) wrote in The New York Times after his son's death, "I discovered that Sheik Qaradawi is the host of a weekly program on the Qatar-based TV news network Al Jazeera called 'Sharia & Life'" [Local Matters, May 28].

"He uses this forum to preach his new morality to millions of Arabic-speaking viewers, including Hamas operatives, Al Qaeda recruits, schoolteachers and impressionable Muslim youths. 'We have the "children bomb," and these human bombs must continue until liberation,' he told his audience in 2002. Consistent with this logic and morality, Sheik Qaradawi later extended his Koranic blessing to suicide bombing against American civilians in Iraq."

Judah Pearl also said, "When people ask me whether I seek revenge, I answer: The killers do not interest me. I would rather seek effective ways of lessening the hatred that took Danny's life. We should care less about fanatics on the run and more about the ideological fuel that sustains them, such as clerics like Qaradawi, and Al Jazeera, which amplifies their voices" [The Los Angeles Times].

Some try to ignore this, but the hate is real, the terror intentional.

Jeff Kaufman



Is there that much of a difference between Al Jazeera and Fox? Al Jazeera and Rush Limbaugh? I haven't heard any clamoring to ban either of them from the airwaves.

Nina Jaffe



As a regular viewer of Al Jazeera English on the Internet, I have been following the story regarding its carriage on Burlington Telecom and the ensuing controversy.

The timing of the debate coincides with the release of a new book by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, detailing not only the misguided nature of the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq, but also the role of the media in buying into the myths and fallacies propagated by the White House.

To put it bluntly, the corporate media, by acting as a purveyor of misinformation from Washington, got the Iraq war - arguably the most important story of the day - wrong. This is in contrast to Al Jazeera, which not only was unafraid to adopt an independent, autonomous position with respect to the war, but also provided coverage of the staggering human cost of the conflict.

So, making the case for Al Jazeera in the realm of television journalism need not merely involve advocating the importance of media diversity, freedom of the press and a strong global perspective on news reporting. Supporters of the channel, myself included, need only point out that Al Jazeera told the truth about Iraq. That is far more than what can be said of the mainstream corporate media.

Suhail Shafi



Seriously, Chris Palmetto? No, seriously?

I was anticipating the line in your letter (pouting about Inner Fire District's language regarding "the rich") that would reveal the whole thing as being satirical [Letters, May 21]. But the line never came.

Did you really not understand that they were talking about their songs as historical records of European Jewish culture? Inner Fire District didn't write these songs - they perform songs that were often inspired by the extraordinary hardships faced by Jewish people at certain points in world history (late tsarist and revolutionary Russia, for instance). Are you really so upset by the oppressive stereotyping of the wealthy that you completely misunderstood this? This was what you took away from that "Stuck in Vermont"? Seriously?

Maybe you can contact someone at UVM Hillel or the Chabad Jewish Community Center to rewrite the Yiddish lyrics to be more rich-friendly. If not, I guess you'll just have to boycott Inner Fire District - you can use the time to found the Ayn Rand Anti-Defamation Club.

Molly Hodgdon



Ken Picard's recent article suffers by confusing resistance to small-scale wind with resistance to utility-scale wind ["Blowing It?" May 21]. Opposition to small-scale wind generally does not amount to more than not wanting to look at it.

Since the electricity systems of 24 states were deregulated in the 1990s, a market for wholesale power has emerged in which the price for electricity is set by generators with the highest per-unit costs (natural gas). In this market, operators of low per-unit cost sources (solar, wind, hydroelectric) can realize great profits.

While Vermont towns that would host utility-scale wind would receive some new tax revenues from developers, there are legitimate reasons - beyond NIMBY - for residents to be skeptical of developers who, amid soaring natural gas prices, want to sell electricity out of state.

The NIMBY caricature obscures the nature of the debate. It is not just about whether there should be more utility-scale wind and where. For anti-wind activists, it is about how great a role for-profit corporations should play in setting Vermont's energy policy (less).

The Act 208 "Vermont's Energy Future" process should be made permanent. The power and knowledge of energy developers should be introduced into the policy process, and loosed onto the landscape, only after citizens decide what sources of energy should be used to meet Vermont's energy policy goals. Such reform would not magically erase political contention from the process. It may, however, remove such contention from the realm of zero-sum opportunism and place it within the social relationships of Vermonters.

Brian Miles



It was great to read Mike Ives' article on the potential for streetcars in Burlington [Local Matters, May 28]. As a Burlington resident, and editor of the national Planning Commissioners Journal, I can confirm the surge of interest across the country in developing streetcar lines - and not just in big cities.

Kenosha, Wisconsin, a city not that much larger than Burlington, has completed a 2-mile-long trolley line. The cost: just $5 million, including track, five streetcars and a maintenance barn; it was constructed in just two years. They'll soon be starting a 3-mile extension.

I had the chance to ride the Kenosha streetcar last year and meet with Len Brandrup, the transportation director. He explained that streetcar lines are much lower in cost and simpler to operate and maintain than more elaborate light rail lines. Many are designed for use as short-distance circulators - something that would make sense in Burlington. The Kenosha streetcar, which links the lakefront and downtown, is part of the city's strategy of containing sprawl and getting more people within the region to visit the downtown. It's also led to new housing on vacant land along the line. It brings the twin benefits of providing a transportation alternative that people enjoy using, and an economic development tool that's a catalyst for the private market.

We have the opportunity to look into investments that will benefit Burlington and neighboring communities for years to come. Streetcars should be part of that picture.

Wayne Senville



Not being familiar with the play prior to having seen it, I had a whole different experience at Lost Nation Theater on Friday night ["Broken Glass," May 28]. I found The Glass Menagerie frustrating, funny and sad, which I imagined was the whole idea of the play. I thought all the actors were excellent and was particularly impressed by the performance of Laura. I thought she really was handicapped and thought her very brave to parade it in front of an audience. Call me naive, but I enjoyed the play immensely and have told my friends they should make it a point to see it.

Jeanne McIntyre


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