April 25 - May 2, 2007 

The Bill for Rights

My friends, since the passage of the Patriot Act, our fundamental freedoms have been under assault by an increasingly large and abusive federal government. The Bill of Rights, the cornerstone of our free society, was devastated by this legislation that Congress did not even read before voting on.

When are we as a nation going to actively demand that our constitutional rights be restored? Perhaps when we choose to find common ground instead of bickering over our nominal differences; the Bill of Rights is exactly the place to start.

Theoretically, it could be said that the "left" respects the Bill of Rights for protecting free speech, ensuring due process in the court of law, and respecting the private choices of individuals in their personal affairs. Similarly, it could also be said that the "right" respects the Bill of Rights for ensuring the right to keep and bear arms, respecting religious freedom, and preserving states' rights to maintain their affairs. Americans, in my opinion, seem to have this common thread of enjoying liberty and prospering under freedom. However, freedom-loving Americans have been falsely divided into a "left" and "right," whereby certain Americans don't seem to respect the freedoms of other Americans. In truth, we all prosper under the same liberties and justice.

This applies to both economic and civil liberties, for in practice, one cannot exist without the other. A government that restricts economic liberty in the form of income tax is soon to follow with legislation dictating a loss of personal liberty. If a government can tell you what to do with what you earn, what would prevent it from using that economic power to dictate what you can and cannot say, etc.? Both are instruments of the same creature. Both are an insult to the personal choice and dignity of every single individual in this country.

The Patriot Act was a crushing blow to the Bill of Rights, which had already been weakened by more than a century of political manipulation in Washington. If we are to preserve any of our most important freedoms, we must end the division among Americans and respect the true freedom of all. Your one voice is important, indeed crucial, to maintaining a government of the people instead of a government by monetary elites. I urge you to stand on this common ground with your fellow citizens and demand change now. Every individual will benefit tremendously when the Bill of Rights is restored to its true place in American government.

--Matthew Gustin, Boise

W is for Wall

Our inspired president's new answer to all problems starts with a capitol W for wall.

Don't want immigrants coming over the border? Build a wall.

Don't want Iraqis killing each other? Build a wall.

What other walls can he build? Ah, first he should build a wall around the Democrats. Followed by a wall around the numerous investigating committees in Congress. Al Gore should have his own personal wall, as should Valerie Plame and her spouse.

Senior citizens who don't like the Medicare drug plan should have a wall. Parents who do not appreciate the testing program of No Child Left Behind should have a wall. The low- and middle-class taxpayers who don't like tax breaks for the wealthy should have a wall around them as well.

I need my own wall for complaining about immigrant raids, which leave kids in this country without parents. The better answer would be to wall in George Bush in a straitjacket.

-- Yvette Sedlewicz, Boise

For Fair Trade

Last fall, I spent a couple of months working as an intern for a non-governmental organization in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Burkina Faso ranks among the poorest countries in the world. Extreme poverty is the striking norm there. I was working as a development agent, trying to help local initiatives organize themselves and better manage their activities. As a result, I became acquainted with the development challenges that countries of the region face trying to break the poverty circle. Among the many problems is one for which we, as westerners, are directly responsible: international trade and bilateral import/export regulation.

The actual rules of trade, set up by organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and bilateral agreements between individual countries, are unfairly favorable for western nations. The prices of the products we are consuming are kept artificially low leaving the producers of these countries with no choice but to sell their products with little or no profit left to provide for basic necessities.

For a couple of decades, a growing movement has been trying to address this issue by providing an alternative way to make trade. The movement, called Fair Trade, offers opportunities for producers disadvantaged by the conventional trading system to sell their goods at a decent price. The movement has gained popularity over the last few years and is now one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, with a 37 percent growth rate in 2005 on overall sales.

Fair Trade is a global strategy to fight poverty. The basic governing concept is that it cuts down the number of stakeholders in the import chain, leaving a bigger share of the profit for the producers. Instead of selling their crops to a local broker, farmers organize themselves into cooperatives that can deal directly with importers from the West. The cooperative redistributes the profits equitably among the members, but also keeps a percentage of the money for financing development projects in the community like schools, health-care centers and municipal mills.

Certain companies have in the past attempted to take advantage of the popularity of the concept by misleading customers, falsely advertising their products as fairly traded. Realizing the danger, the Fair Trade movement has reacted by setting up an accrediting organization that is now in charge of certifying fair trade products. In the Americas, this organization is called Transfair.

In order to be accredited as Fair trade, the cooperatives must satisfy a number of criteria, among which are good working conditions, gender equity and environmental sustainability. The system of cooperatives is an excellent way to empower small communities of the global south and help them build their own capacity to manage the farming process and control their sales.

You can find different products under the Fair Trade certification such as coffee, chocolate, tea, sugar, fruit, cotton and handicrafts. Contribute to the development of disadvantaged communities by choosing Fair Trade products in your next purchase.

--Loic Nigen,

Boise

No To NAFTA

It is past time to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by passing House concurrent Resolution 22. This would block the Security and Prosperity Partnership that is combining Mexico, Canada and the U.S. into a regional government run by unelected bureaucrats. This, according to a plan developed by the Council on Foreign Relations, who are striving for world government.

NAFTA, adopted in 1993, has been very destructive to American jobs. Our trade deficit with Canada and Mexico was $9 billion before NAFTA, but it was $126 billion in 2005. Over 1 million U.S. jobs have been lost, and it has ruined the Mexican economy as well.

NAFTA's unconstitutional tribunals, operating under a United Nations Commission, have been overriding our courts and deciding conflicts between commercial enterprises of the three countries. The U.S. always loses!

Henry Kissinger, a one-time Council on Foreign Relations member, said, in 1993 that the passage of NAFTA "will represent the most creative step toward a new world order taken by any group of countries ... and a first step toward a free-trade zone for the entire Western Hemisphere."

NAFTA has been destroying our independence and freedom. We must get out! Contact our senators and Congressmen to co-sponsor and pass House Concurrent Resolution 22, to withdraw from NAFTA, and pass H.R. 1146, to get out of the United Nations, the world government in the making!

­--Adrian L. Arp,

Twin Falls

cool your diet

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, involving dozens of experts, has now provided a more detailed assessment of the effects of global warming on North America. The 67-page report predicts devastating droughts and hurricanes and extensive flooding of coastal areas, displacing millions. Erratic weather fluctuations are likely to increase human and animal casualties from heat, storms, pollution, and infectious diseases.

A report released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization last November blamed animal agriculture for 18 percent (more than automobiles) of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to operate farm machinery, trucks, refrigeration equipment, factory farms and slaughterhouses. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from the digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

The annual observance of Earth Day provides a great opportunity to start saving our planet by dropping animal products from our diet. More details are available at www.cool-yourdiet.org.

--Glenn Newkirk,

Boise

From the BW.Com Comments Page:

RE: "Virginia Real" by Bill Cope (BW, Opinion, April 25, 2007)

Nice job, Cope. No political, religious, products or organizations were attacked. You expressed your heartfelt anguish without all the finger pointing that so many have either politicized or capitalized ratings.

--25yeareagleresident

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