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Originally published July 13, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 13, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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Saving the planet

Captain Gregoire

Editor, The Times:

Thank you for "Doubtful double-back on state wind power" [Editorial, July 5]. I agree that moving forward on alternative energy and other tactics to reduce global-warming pollution without needless delay is imperative.

Gov. Gregoire's Climate Action Team is currently meeting throughout Washington (the next meeting is in Seattle on Aug. 7) to best determine how our state can act to reduce global-warming emissions.

The Climate Action Team will deliver its early recommendations this fall and I urge the governor and the Legislature to take their recommendations and move forward with a comprehensive and far-reaching plan, which will make Washington an example for innovation and leadership in combating climate change. Climate change is a problem of such significance we cannot afford to hesitate, but must move forward with determination and far-reaching vision.

-- William Johnsen, Lake Stevens

Still more Libby

Serious consequences

Those criticizing Democratic responses to the Libby commutation need to review the facts of this case. An unclassified CIA summary of Valerie Plame's employment history was disclosed in a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

Per this document, Plame was "covert" when her name became public. The only area of disagreement should be the seriousness of the crimes.

The consequence of outing Plame was that the CIA front gathering nuclear proliferation intelligence in Iran, and agents using this cover, were also outed. National security was weakened. Commuting Libby's sentence means he retains his Fifth Amendment rights, and need not cooperate with the investigation of this initial offense.

In answer to those who compare the Clinton pardons to the Bush commutation, those pardoned by Clinton had not been convicted of crimes threatening national security. The most often mentioned case of a Clinton pardon is that of Marc Rich, convicted of tax evasion.

Ironically, the campaign for his pardon was spearheaded by "Scooter" Libby, his legal council at the time. You bet I am upset with the Libby clemency.

-- Cyndi Wolfe, Seattle

Is Libby above the law?

In commuting "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence, George Bush called the 30-month prison sentence "excessive." Thirty months in prison is well within the federal guidelines for lying to a federal grand jury.

Bush points out that the punishment is still "harsh," with the imposition of a $250,000 fine. Libby's defense-fund balance is currently at $5 million, and counting; easily enough to pay the fine with plenty left over.

Bush also says that Libby's professional reputation "is forever damaged." I would submit that the executive hiring teams at Halliburton or The Carlyle Group would consider Libby's blind loyalty a great strength in making hiring decisions.

Now that his prison sentence has been commuted, perhaps Congress should offer Libby immunity and subpoena him back to testify about all the deep, dark secrets of this administration. Also, since this administration supports "enhanced interrogation techniques," Congress may want to consider such "enhanced" techniques to extricate the truth from Libby. After all, aren't we all entitled to equal treatment under the law?

-- Paula Joneli, Des Moines

Political lemmings

One wonders how much more childish this administration can get. It rolls out their whole propaganda crew without realizing how foolishly immature they sound while trying to rationalize the president's decision to commute "Scooter" Libby's sentence. They reasoned that the Clintons did it, so they could, too.

Let's agree on the Clintons, and realize the Bush crew was just as inexcusable.

The difference is that the Bush crew have been energetic supporters of law and order, and opposed the activist judges that let felons off easily.

But now what do they do? They act like kids in the schoolyard and say "if the others do it, so can we."

In the end, the commutation of Libby's sentence looks awful to those who have respected our belief in the jury system.

-- Joseph Honick, Bainbridge Island

This is no fairytale or football game

Wow! Last Friday was a big day for fantasy writers ["Uprighting Scooter," Northwest Voices, July 6]. One after another, seven letters appeared in The Times, all saying that somehow "Scooter" Libby was innocent and Bush was correct to pardon him.

None, however, seemed to realize that Libby's crime was lying and obstruction. He was covering for someone who is not innocent. No jail time and help paying his $250,000 fine means Libby will not have a reason to come clean, and the culprit will escape.

However, the biggest issue to me is that all seven letter writers were parroting the half-truths and misinformation of the White House marketing machine. It's time for Republicans to stop getting their information from Rush Limbaugh, and start thinking for themselves.

Politics is not a football game. You are allowed to be critical of your political party if they make mistakes. You can still be a conservative without believing that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or that no one in the Bush White House outed Valerie Plame.

-- Mike Kovacs, Sammamish

Seattle schools in court

Assigning students

The June 28 Supreme Court ruling prevents school districts from desegregating on the basis of race ["Will income be the next tiebreaker for schools?" News, June 29]. This is another step backwards for our country, though I'm sure many believe that the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education decision was a bad one.

What is surprising about the recent Supreme Court ruling is the wording: Public schools must "stop assigning students on a racial basis." This leaves the door open on "assigning students" on a basis of income or academic performance.

-- Jerry Creath, Seattle

Serious setback

In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Washington State Initiative 350 was unconstitutional. The initiative, approved by Washington state voters in 1978 by a 2-1 margin, would have codified a student's right to attend his or her neighborhood school, allowed for voluntary racial transfers and would have prohibited the mandatory racial busing of public-school students.

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District, has ruled 5-4 that it is unconstitutional to assign public-school students according to their race.

Twenty-nine years of litigation, frustration, heartbreak, wasted valuable resources and lost educational opportunities unnecessarily caused by the Seattle School District. The district didn't listen to its constituents, and we all paid the price.

-- Bob Dorse, Seattle

Irony in black and white

Gambling on our future

Surely, a tragic incongruity exists between two Sunday Times' stories: "Going Green is global at Live Earth concerts" [page one, July 8] and "Billions being spent on future Strip" [page one, July 8].

Aren't we gaming in Las Vegas while our breadbaskets burn?

-- Rachael Levine, Seattle

Sicko causes a stir

A lousy 37th

Letter writer Kathy Bowyer ["Oh well," Northwest Voices July 5] raises some interesting points about Michael Moore's film "Sicko" (though I get the feeling she hasn't actually seen it).

Bowyer says we have government run health care, otherwise known as the VA hospital system. That's actually a government-owned hospital, currently run by private contractors, understaffed to keep costs down.

We also have Medicare, which was (until the recent Medicare "fix") one of the best-run government programs. Why not give all of our citizens the same health care we give Congress?

Moore does not hold up Cuba as the paragon of health, they actually rank lower than the U.S. in terms of things like infant mortality and general well-being. However, a Cuban hospital treated our 9/11 rescue workers when their own insurance companies wouldn't.

In the film, Moore does not address the 40 million people who don't have insurance. The stories in "Sicko" come primarily from those with insurance whose coverage doesn't automatically cover things like ambulance rides (you have to get preapproved between the car accident and the ambulance picking you up) or preexisting conditions (like tumors discovered during heart surgery).

What Moore is suggesting is perhaps we can learn from other countries' health-care systems, and use certain elements that do work for them. Wouldn't it be better to be first in world health, rather than 37th?

-- Sten Ryason, Seattle

U.S. can learn from No. 1

Letter writer Kathy Bowyer criticized the health care provided in France, noting "13,000 people died in France a few years ago, many of them waiting for attention at hospitals."

I'm sure Bowyer hasn't experienced firsthand the French health-care system, but I have. I lived in France for a year, during which I took my son, then 10, for a routine physical examination required for school.

We spent nearly an hour with a physician, who examined him thoroughly, talked with us, and in the end charged me the equivalent of $20. Health care in France is universal.

It's not surprising to me that the World Health Organization ranked France No. 1 in quality of health care; the U.S., by contrast -- which spends far more -- ranked 37th.

The aberration to which Bowyer refers was a national weather disaster, a heat wave that struck across the country in August 2003. I'm sure we wouldn't want the U.S. system evaluated based on the care given to New Orleans residents in the aftermath of Katrina, and it would be equally unfair to use this terrible disaster in France as indicative of the French quality of care.

-- Mike Kelly, Bainbridge Island

By the dawn's early light

Fourth revelers disturb the peace

The news reported a higher-than-usual number of injuries, property damage and fires from fireworks this Fourth of July holiday ["Holiday fireworks blamed in fires, injuries," Local News, July 6].

Could this higher number be attributed to the fact that police departments announced ahead of time that they would not respond to illegal fireworks reports? They essentially gave people permission to shoot off illegal fireworks because area police departments preannounced that they would not respond to complaints.

Carloads of people drove in and out of the student parking lot at Interlake High School to shoot off large, booming fireworks. I was shocked by their brazen disregard for the close proximity of our houses (mine backs up to that parking lot and I had to close my windows because of the smoke and noise from the fireworks) -- some like mine with dry, cedar-shake roofs -- and their disregard for the lateness of the hour.

Finally, at one in the morning, I called the Bellevue police department. No one ever came, nor did they inform me that they would not come. If nothing else, the revelers were disturbing the peace at 1 o'clock in the morning. Additionally, I felt my home was being threatened with possible damage by carloads of people with disregard for the law -- the police should have come.

The partiers finally quit at 2 a.m., and left all their garbage and fireworks remnants in the school parking lot. These people did not care whether one of their fireworks might catch someone's house or the brush on fire (there's a slim greenbelt between the parking lot and the homes that is full of dry blackberry brush), and showed total disregard for the fact that many people had to work in the morning -- so my fears were not unreasonable.

I kept wondering why they weren't worried about getting caught -- and today I discovered that the police departments had already given them the green light by pre-announcing that they would not respond to complaints about illegal fireworks. Surely they cannot be surprised that the damages are higher -- and could someone explain why fireworks are deemed "illegal" in some cities (like Bellevue) if the police departments give a green light?

If our city officials are not worried enough about the consequences of this illegal activity to respond to a report of it, then why not make it legal and let organizations make some money opening fireworks stands around town? How do they determine if there is risk to life or property? They certainly did not ask me any poignant questions. If someone is shooting a gun in the middle of the street will they refuse to respond until a bullet actually hits someone?

-- Lynne Harden, Bellevue

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