DWI statistics mask severity of problem, so toughen the law
Re the May 16 editorial [“Lower DWI limit for safety’s sake”] endorsing a lower legal blood alcohol limit (from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent) for drunken driving:
Let’s keep in mind that several years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [changed the] definition of alcohol-impaired driving to include and report [only] motor vehicle fatalities involving a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent and above. Fatalities caused by alcohol involvement under that limit were no longer included. They are termed alcohol-related and number in the thousands each year and are no longer in the announced statistics. They can still be located, but not easily.
In my estimation, this gives the public a slanted view of the real alcohol involvement in traffic fatalities
I am encouraged by the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation to lower the standard, as there is evidence of impairment at a BAC [blood alcohol content] as low as 0.01.
In Europe, after enacting a 0.05 legal limit, the number of deaths attributed to alcohol involvement was reduced by more than 50 percent in 10 years.
If the enactment of a 0.05 percent BAC threshold would save the life of even one innocent victim, how could anyone be against the proposed change?
Remember, the life of a victim saved very well might be the life of one of your loved ones.
The writer is a victim advocate for the Kathleen A. Campion Foundation, named for her daughter who was killed by a drunken driver in 1989.
Travesty at Guantanamo has gone on long enough
Our Constitution is based on simple and powerful principles of justice and law.
Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions guarantees that detainees be treated humanely, and prohibits cruel treatment and torture. Guantanamo prison violates the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution, and makes a mockery out of our government’s concerns about human rights.
Currently, there are 160 detainees in Guantanamo, and over 100 are engaged in a hunger strike. These detainees are willing to die because their imprisonment is forever, they had no rights or legal recourse, and they have lost all hope. To die is preferable to imprisonment at Guantanamo. Eighty-six current prisoners have been cleared for transfer to other countries, but none has been able to leave. These 86 have been held for 11 years with no charges brought against them and many of them have been tortured and held in solitary confinement.
Col. Morris Davis, the past chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, has stated that the system at Guantanamo is “fundamentally wrong,” and has called for closure along with 38 senior religious leaders.
President Obama has recently repeated his position that the detention facility needs to be closed and prisoners transferred to third countries (if not a risk) or to the United States for adjudication [May 3 Gazette].
While Congress had made closing Guantanamo difficult, there are actions that the president can take today. He can assign a senior White House person the job of closing the facility, and direct Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to certify the 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer. He can lift the administration-imposed moratorium on the transfer of 57 Yemeni detainees to Yemen. He can also issue a signing statement that would supersede the law preventing use of federal funds to transfer prisoners.
I call on President Obama to close Guantanamo. I call on Congress to fulfill its responsibility for upholding the Constitution and rule of law. I call on the citizens of our country to speak out for law, and justice.
Democracy is dependent on respect for human rights. Act now to close Guantanamo.
Palestinians rejected Jerusalem compromise
Re the May 21 letter by Tom Ellis concerning a local celebration of Jerusalem Unity: At the Annapolis Conference in August 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to divide Jerusalem, with the Arab section to be part of an independent Palestinian state, in the framework of a permanent peace solution.
Palestinian President Abbas refused the offer without making any counter-offer and at present he refuses to negotiate.
What is ‘right’ is not always constitutional
I believe the May 17 editorial [“Obama may not be wicked, but he’s a bad wizard”] on the three-pronged attack on the president’s character was comprehensive, fair and just.
The many abuses of private rights by the Bush/Cheney administration that were seemingly condoned because the perpetrators were [acting] in the country’s best interests has apparently led officials in secondary lines of responsibility to act without the scrutiny of top-line officials to make sure such acts are constitutional.
In war, on the front lines, second-line officers are forced to make decisions in the heat of battle that are more “right” than “legal” for mere survival. Unfortunately, our country has been in a war mode since WWII.
Polarized politics have put the government in a war with itself, and constitutional rights are being violated mainly by second-line officials, who in reality run the country and are not kept in line by top-line officials, who are fighting a war to be re-elected.
The problem is that what is right or wrong varies with individuals; whereas judgment of legal or illegal is governed by the Constitution, rendering justice for all. In a Democracy, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, whether it agrees with individual concepts of what is right and best, or not.
Give recent vets same benefits as older ones
Article 20 of the state Retirement and Social Security Law allows certain honorably discharged veterans working in the public sector to buy up to three years’ military service to credit their pensions. However, the law as currently written excludes many veterans who served so valiantly from the Desert Storm era to the present day.
There is currently legislation in both the Senate and Assembly to correct this grave injustice. There has been similar legislation in the past, but it has languished and died a slow death in committee.
Opponents of the proposed legislation argue that current fiscal realities faced by state and local governments, as well as the desire by taxpayers to see much-needed tax relief, make any change to the law unrealistic.
Can we really put a price on such selfless service to our nation and our state? All honorably discharged veterans are entitled to the same deal. There are no second-class veterans. Please contact your state Assembly person and senator and voice your support for A06974/S04714.
The writer is an Air Force veteran and current state employee.
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