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Mail May 12, 2004

VIOLENCE EXPECTED

I am a bit surprised by the disbelief that people express in regard to U.S. soldiers committing tortures in Iraqi prisons and elsewhere. War programming is powerful. We demonize the enemy so intensely in the minds of young impressionable kids that they sometimes lose their humanity. It makes it easier to kill when it is a monster rather than a person like yourself. The average kid has seen 100,000 acts of violence by the time they leave elementary school on television and 8,000 murders. Young recruits yell "Kill Kill Kill" during training exercises and we are surprised when they actually do it? Without special training do you really think that you could look into the eyes of a 12-year-old and blow their head off even if they were threatening to shoot you?

The traveling military adventure vans let teens bomb virtual cities in a venue of video gaming then move on to more sophisticated programs during actual training. Virtual warfare facilitates further disconnection as they drop a barrage of cluster bombs on a digital enemy. In the real war they have just killed a few hundred human beings and the unexploded cluster bombs remain for years until a curious child is dismembered as he unknowingly stumbles upon it.

It is estimated that 300,000 child soldiers are fighting in 30 countries worldwide. Torture is historically another part of the horrors of war and the ability to engage in it is predictably another consequence of the desensitized psyche of a child programmed to kill the "evil doers." On one hand we say these children are old enough to kill and die while on the other society says they are not yet responsible enough to drink a beer.

As of the end of last month 61 of the "official" 779 dead U.S. soldiers in Iraq were teenagers. Army Pfc. Lynndie England who is accused of torturing Iraqi prisoners is only 21. After a long delay the United States finally voted to support ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The treaty says no kids under 18 in the military. Even though we do not violate the rule of the treaty we are violating the spirit of it. The No Child Left Behind Act gives the military new and unprecedented access to our children and they are vigorously recruiting in the junior and high schools. To their credit the military enlistment form clearly states to the recruit that nothing they have been told or promised is valid except what is on the form. The military realizes that the recruiters make many promises that the government is not willing to keep as they entice these kids to sign on and fill their recruitment quotas.

As a person who is oppose to war as a means to resolve world conflict, issues of death, torture and genocide are of deep concern to me. But the issue of recruiting children to fight these wars and commit these atrocities is even more fundamental. I urge people to Google the term "Counter Recruitment" and investigate what you will find there. Insist at the very least that the recruiters tell the truth to these children if they wish to solicit them to fight, kill and die. I further urge you to join the Idaho Peace Coalition and work for a more peaceful and just world.

—Nino Carpenter, Boise

FDA WRONG

The FDA's decision to deny Plan B emergency contraception (EC) over-the-counter status was a major public health setback and a blow to women's reproductive rights and health.

It was also a blatantly political move, designed to appease anti-choice hardliners at the cost of American women's well being.

The FDA's own Reproductive Health Drugs and Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committees voted 23 to 4 in December to grant EC over-the-counter status.

But on Thursday the FDA overruled them—and not for scientific reasons. The hollow claims about concerns over young women's use of EC are scientifically baseless and were disproved by a University of Pittsburgh study published last month in the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, which demonstrated that access to EC does not make teenagers more likely to have unprotected sex.

No, the FDA ruled against EC for another reason: because it was willing to let baseless anti-choice propaganda influence what should have been an objective scientific decision, and to sacrifice women's health in the process.

—Rebecca L. Poedy, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Idaho, Inc.

EYE SORE?

Regarding Jerry Simonson's letter (BW, April 28) that wind power generators are "the ugliest abominations": Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. I find wind generators to be fascinating engineering marvels, and more attractive than most other sources of electrical power. Perhaps Mr. Simonson finds dams, atomic power stations, and miles and miles of power lines to be "beautifully inspiring."

There are ugly abominations in our area, though. Several of them are conveniently placed together for viewer (un)enjoyment. I'm speaking, of course, of the new Ada County courthouse and the rest of the buildings built, or being built, east of this monstrosity. Surely some group of cretinous architects somewhere are proud of their tasteless creations, and are laughing (along with the creator of the hideous "wing" at the airport) at the fees they've collected to design these structures. I'm no architectural expert; I just know what I hate.

Incidentally, regarding said courthouse, nothing makes the citizens of this great state seem more like country bumpkins than the sight of pedestrians running across five-lane Front Street to get to the courthouse. Perhaps the designers should have included a pedestrian bridge so that visitors wouldn't have to agonize between parking in the closer, but more expensive courthouse lot, or the cheaper, but further parking spots on the Myrtle side of Front Street.

Cheaper parking? No, wait. That would be an abomination.

—Jim Horn,

Boise

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