Regarding the Nov. 16 article, "A low-cost laptop for every child": I have seen photos of this $100 laptop in other publications. It is so perfect for so many people - not because of the low cost, but because of the design. The laptop will be brightly colored - a feature intended to make it readily identifiable to help eliminate the gray market where the machines would be resold instead of reaching the intended low-income children.
I suggest that the producers of the laptop make a fancier-looking model for two or three times the price, and then use the profits to fund the production of the low-cost units for those in developing countries who cannot even afford the $100 price.
I know I would immediately buy one for myself and perhaps one for each of my kids. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, here in the US who would do the same. The profits would provide the same number of free or reduced-cost units to third-world countries.
I am disturbed by the Nov. 18 article, "Senate fixes military role in terror trials." The term "war on terror" is a mental construct built by the present administration and others to justify treating terrorists and possible terrorists as members of a quasi-military entity and seeking justice through military tribunals. But terrorism is not a new phenomenon and should not be codified as an act of war. This class of criminality doesn't require a new US legal system. Terrorism is a criminal activity justified by zealots over the centuries. I see little difference in the actions of Al Qaeda and other criminal cartels whose goals are the trafficking of drugs, people, or weapons. Prosecution of criminals engaged in these latter activities hasn't required a new trial system.
Sept. 11 does not mean that suddenly we in the US must discard the Constitution for martial law. Besides, terrorism is transnational, not just our problem.
We can't refuse to be judged by transnational forums and also assume we have the right to ignore the laws and rights of other nations and individuals in the name of national security.
All of us are citizens of the world, not just our own countries. Instead of creating a new way to try terrorists in the US, it is vital that the US government work hard with others to forge a body of international law that will both prosecute transnational criminals with vigor and protect the fundamental human rights of the world's citizens.
Gerry Roll's Oct. 6 Opinion piece, "Big-farm subsidies vs. food stamps: Whose plate will Congress fill?," scratches the surface of an important issue. Ms. Roll asserts that it is more important to provide food for families than to continue paying billions of dollars in subsidies. As things stand, millions of farming families do not earn enough to feed themselves, so moving money from subsidies to food stamps is a better way to help families.
Although subsidies are intended to help farming families, they usually end up benefiting corporate farms instead. Subsidies vs. food stamps is an issue of big business vs. families, and the well-being of families is more important than that of businesses.
In order to help families, we must accept the lesser harms done to businesses. Money should be put into food stamps to show that we choose quality of life over business growth.
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