Letters to the editor

Band together to stop international war crimes

Please speak up for partnership ways of dealing with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Urge our U.S. Congress and candidates to join wills with all members of the European Union, other members of NATO, and more than 96 signed-in nations in total who will soon establish a permanent International War Crimes Court via a treaty process started in Rome in 1998.

Despite the Clinton administration’s efforts to win the United States’ support for this court, our participation is being blocked by the Pentagon’s man: Republican Sen. Jesse Helms is exercising his veto power over such a treaty as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Helms and the Pentagon want to protect American soldiers and officials from falling under the new court’s jurisdiction. This posture is, unfortunately, the exact hypocritical image that enables angry, confused lunatics to enlist new members in covert causes against the United States. The United States uses the United Nations to demand [that] the rule of law be applied to other nations and leaders, while also demanding exemptions for our president, officials and soldiers.

In my view, all this points to our need for internal housecleaning at home — including term limits for committee chair positions. An effective International Criminal Court would cut into our unmatched U.S. arms exports and Pentagon Industry profits, which have been a historic booster to our economy. Why not bite the bullet now, while our economy is robust and can absorb this? Balance out the zestful pursuit of free-trade legislation by including human values alongside pursuit of the almighty buck.

— William A. Self
Redwood Valley, Calif.

Hope for Horses responds to Animal Services

[Editor’s note: This letter is directed to Jim Medford, director of Buncombe County Animal Services.]

Mr. Medford, after reading your letter directed toward Troy Amastar [Letters, June 28, “Animal Control answers for Amastar”], I could not help but respond. I find it very interesting that you are so knowledgeable about my personal feelings and willing to write about them in a public format when you and I have never met. My only contact with you was one phone call on June 30 that I returned to you, in which a meeting was arranged between us that you did not show up for or even bother to cancel. I can only assume that you have been told that I have been outspoken on a handful of occasions concerning the controversies within Buncombe County Friends for Animals (BCFFA). Unfortunately, it has been the custom of your superiors to label such individuals as troublemakers, regardless of their motivations to help animals in this area. Despite my heartfelt concern over what I believe to be the mismanagement of BCFFA, I am a member. I have expressed my desire to work with BCFFA in a letter that I wrote to their board members last fall. I even ran in their 5-K.

It is no secret that most of the outspoken members of BCFFA, including myself, have a negative opinion of the executive director’s and the associate director’s behaviors on the job. I have nothing but respect for the individuals who are steely enough to work below them day after day. “Genuine hope for the future” would better characterize my feelings for the organization.

Mr. Medford, in characterizing Hope for Horses, you implied that we do not accept horses that are not adoptable. This could not be further from the truth. Of the 20 horses that were donated in the last year, three were not adoptable due to the complexities of their care and will remain here indefinitely: Currently, we have Lily, a blind 19-year-old thoroughbred mare; Zopie, a 38-year-old gelding; and Mystic, a 30-year-old crippled pony mare. Our ultimate goal is to keep horses out of the hands of killer buyers who attend our local auctions and buy from some local horse traders. We are nonprofit status (pending) and greatly rely on the generous donations of money and volunteer time that we receive from local citizens.

Anytime you want to reschedule that meeting, I can fill you in more. Just let me know.

–Whitney Wright
Hope for Horses

Wal-Mart: a not-so-“super” store

Even just thinking of allowing a Wal-Mart superstore to be built at the Sayles Bleachery site is insane.

Putting up an ugly monster building — including [a] large parking [lot] — and forever destroying a beautiful area that otherwise could be used to serve and please the people of Asheville and visitors in a better way, is the worst thing that can happen to our city.

By the way, are we talking about a democracy?

Wal-Mart has become one of the dictators in the United States — and tries to rule the rest of the world, too, by overflooding the countries with their megastores and, at the same time, exterminating existing individual businesses. As soon as Wal-Mart moves into a city, area or country, the existing businesses can’t compete anymore and have to close their doors. The naturally grown infrastructures are destroyed. Individualism can’t exist anymore. All that Wal-Mart is selling are mass productions of inferior quality — in other words, junk products — made by cheap labor in poor countries and sold to people here with a huge [profit] margin for Wal-Mart. People here have lost, or are losing, their jobs right and left because the existing factories can’t compete and have to close [down]. The workers are driven into [holding down] two, three and more low-paid jobs (at Wal-Mart, perhaps) in order to make a living — forcing them to buy cheap, inferior products from Wal-Mart because there are no other places left. Furthermore, they could not even afford high-quality products, even if they were available.

A Wal-Mart superstore in the Swannanoa [River Road] area would become a traffic disaster for the entire area. The two-lane [road] is too narrow and curvy, already too dangerous with the existing enormous traffic. The streets in Beverly Hills and other communities are or will become “short-cut Charley” streets, diminishing the quality of life and making it dangerous to live there for families with children. For instance, our street (Marlborough Drive) has already become a drive-through to Highway 81 and Tunnel Road. Cars are racing up and down the street, throwing their garbage out of the windows, and — just for fun — damaging the mailboxes. There is a traffic sign on our street limiting the speed to 15 miles per hour. This sign is not visible when you come from Beverly Road. It is hidden by overgrown shrubs and trees. On May 20, I called the police and told them that fact. I was referred to Traffic Engineering … which I called on May 22. They said they would take care of it. Nothing has happened up to now. The sign is not visible and cars are racing down the street.

We wonder how the city of Asheville would handle the traffic flood if a Wal-Mart superstore is built? The city is not able to clear traffic signs.

Furthermore, Swannanoa River Road [will be] endangered by flooding even more if a Wal-Mart superstore is built. One doesn’t have to be a flooding expert to imagine what is going to happen.

We are strictly against a Wal-Mart superstore being built at the Sayles Bleachery site.

— Elli and Frank Cleber

Make “war on drugs” a war on tobacco

The president and the Congress have allocated over a billion dollars more to beef up our war on the drug dealers and growers in Colombia. These unconscionable people are growing and distributing cocaine and heroin to the world. This is killing several thousand people every year in our country, who die quick-but-painful overdose deaths. We must stamp out this scourge!

This same Congress provides price supports for tobacco growers in our own country, who grow a product that kills over 400,000 Americans each year — who die slow, painful deaths from cancer, emphysema and heart disease. My sister and brother were two of these people.

The tobacco industry, from farmer to retailer, [is] moaning and groaning over the harsh action of the Florida jury in awarding $145 billion in punitive damages against the major tobacco companies. They say that amount could put them out of business! That would be terrible, right? If there were no cigarettes, 400,000 Americans might live lives of normal duration.

The tobacco companies knew they were in trouble several years ago. That’s when they stepped up their export advertising campaigns to the Third World, the Far East and South America. They didn’t want to go out of business, just because many of us are beginning to get smart. So what if they kill a couple of million foreigners; it’s good business, right?

Tobacco has killed more people than died in World War II, and we thought that Hitler was a very bad guy. Talk about crimes of genocide in Bosnia, Kosovo or Iraq — hey, these guys were pikers. Our tobacco CEOs kill more people in one month than died in all three of those conflicts put together, and they are pillars in the cathedral of Free Enterprise. They know they are killing people — not for religion or patriotism or some misguided political ethnic-cleansing reason, but for money!

Now they have smart legal advisors who have promised to pay the states and others compensation over a 25-year period. That makes the states partners to the continuation of this extermination. The state treasurers are salivating at this annual windfall. The states very much want the tobacco companies to stay in their killing business, but — with higher-priced cigarettes — get the addicted and the young to pay the tab. If we could remove illness and hospital care for these dying smokers, we could save more than the blood money offered by the purveyors of this deadly plague. We could cut down on hospital beds, nursing homes and medical care. But mostly, we could reduce the suffering of the sick and dying, and the anguish of the people who love them and will miss them.

We and our government get all riled up over the Colombian drug farmers who grow their product to eke out an existence. Some of them have little or no choice. By our refusal to take the obvious action to strongly regulate this deadly product, we — and our government — are complicit in the suffering and painful death of our own citizens, our children, grandchildren, and millions around the world. Is this correct ethical behavior for a God-fearing, Christian democracy?

While our democracy and our affluence [are] envied, our placing money and materialism above principle is correctly criticized by most other countries. Let’s not castigate the villainous Colombian drug dealers until we erase this stain from our own souls.

— Robert Bonadonna

Make old Sayles Bleachery site a science museum, not a superstore

Several people have asked me to send you my proposal for establishing an important attraction for citizens and visitors to Asheville — i.e., The Western North Carolina Museum of Science and Industry, to be located in the facilities previously occupied by the Sayles Bleachery.

The buildings and grounds of the Sayles property, although probably not suitable for conversion to a shopping complex, may be very suitable for a conversion to a museum of science and industry. My opinion is based on my experience of many years as a scientist and as a consultant to industry. For a similar conversion, consider the science museum at Richmond, Va. — located in a former train station — now one of the prime attractions in Richmond.

While careful examination of the buildings and grounds of the Sayles facility is necessary, the industrial atmosphere — set in a parklike environment — seems to be ideal for an outstanding science-and-industry museum. Such a museum would provide a science adventure and an educational experience for local citizens, visitors and tourists. For industrial exhibits, the heavy factory flooring may provide adequate support for historical machinery — some of which might be operated to [create] additional interest. For science exhibits, the industrial buildings will lend atmosphere to demonstrations of electrical phenomena, hydraulics experiments, and computer and communications equipment. Restaurants and picnic areas could be easily located outside the main museum area. It would provide a wonderful place to take children for an exciting afternoon, while increasing their understanding of science, mathematics and local history!

— Donald R. Campbell

Demand clean waterways

The president and vice president are proposing to change the Clean Water Act rules to make it permissible to dump waste in our nation’s waterways. There is no excuse for this violation of our national trust, which is in direct opposition to the stand taken by Clinton and Gore as recently as November 1999. We Still Have Time To Stop This Rule Change, But We Need Your Help.

Please join us in reminding the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, President Clinton and Vice President Gore of their moral obligation to protect our waterways.

If you have access to the Internet, click on the site listed below and use the action-center information to send e-mails to each: the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, President Clinton and Vice President Gore. Take a minute, using the easy on-line form, to let Washington know and then notify your friends about this Web site so they can help too.

The Web site address is: http:/www.saveourwaters.org/action/index.html

… All you have to do is fill in your name, e-mail address and city/state. Thank you. If you don’t have Internet access and e-mail, write to your senators and representatives with your objections.

Thank you for helping.

–Ana Jo O’Brien

A coon-dog bonanza

The cover picture, story and pictures in the Mountain Xpress of the Coon Dog Day celebration in Saluda, N.C., last week were great [July 5, “Smoky and the bandit”]. It appears that people love to see the coon dogs work and the judging of the top dog.

If you are a coon-dog lover, mark Saturday, Sept. 30, on your calendar. This is the date that the Mountain Buggies Unit of the Oasis Shrine Temple, in cooperation with the various coon-dog clubs of Western North Carolina, hold a coon-dog event at Mars Hill, N.C. The event includes a coon-dog competition, judging, an auction and a raffle for the benefit of the Shriner’s [Children’s] Hospital.

All events are sponsored by: Tri-County Coon & Bear Hunters, WNC Coon Hunters Association, Transylvania County, Yancey County, Macon County, Jackson County, Green River, Walkfar, and Three Laurels Coon Hunters Association.

If you love coon dogs, come out to the Mars Hill Recreation Center on Saturday, Sept. 30, for a fun-filled day. There is something for the whole family, and a great benefit for the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital.

— Carl A. Bufflap, Secretary
Oasis Mountain Buggies Unit

Public funds should pay for bike paths

This is in response to Clarence Ervin Young’s letter about “do-it-yourself” bike paths [Letters, July 5, “A do-it-yourself bike path”]. Bike paths are not about “the city of Asheville [paying] for [bikers’] pleasure.” They are about environmentally sound alternatives to gas-guzzling, carbon monoxide-producing cars. Biking is a viable form of transportation, not mere fun.

And that is why bike paths should be funded by public dollars. Public money funds roads for cars every day. Asheville is a progressive city that should be able to see the usefulness of using our money to support intelligent alternatives.

Mr. Young suggested a private fund-raiser to gather money for bike paths. Why don’t we have a fund-raiser for the I-26 connector and see how many people donate to that “worthy” cause?

— Victoria Lyall

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