Taking issue with the Supreme Court

Within "Supreme Court affirms agents' right to 'stop and search' " (Jan. 16) is the coverage of a ruling by the Supreme Court that a city can regulate protest if the process is neutral. No matter how fair regulation is, it inhibits free speech by the mere insistence that the protesters must submit to regulation and the concomitant time delays. A neutral process could take days or months and supplies incumbents with a process they can manipulate beneath the cloak of "plausible deniability." Moreover, even the delays of an unmanipulated permitting process would choke off any significant, extemporaneous demonstrations. Dissent is often in immediate response to a stimulus, and to be effective should be close in time to the stimulus.

Robert Honea
Redwood City, Calif.

The Supreme Court's decision that, in policing the drug war, cops can stop drivers for such vague and common behavior as slowing down when they see a police car, not making eye contact, or letting one's child wave at a police car, ought to be a siren call to all Americans that the war on drugs is having a devastating impact on the rights and freedoms of everyone - not just drug users.

The Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches was once a strong and respected constitutional right. Unfortunately, for all Americans, the Fourth Amendment is now all but a fairy tale, a historical remnant of the time before politicians and Supreme Court justices declared a war on drugs and set out on a slash-and-burn campaign without limits.

Richard Glen Boire
Davis, Calif.

Working for teens in times of tragedy

"Tragedies renew focus on helping teens" (Jan. 17) raises the point that some schools have success in helping teenagers by having adults available for them to talk to.

A major cause of teenage angst is the feeling that "I am alone, no one cares about me or my problems." Sadly, this is often true.

The solution cannot be found in more rules, less rules, smaller classes, or even increased budgets. What is required is people who care. The reforms listed by effective schools focus on creating a caring environment, starting with a principal who is not indifferent. If schools are given the rights of in loco parentis, surely there are responsibilities attached. Too many teachers and administrators treat teaching as merely a job and focus on keeping their bosses (school board and community) happy with the way things are.

Andrew Good
Naperville, Ill.

Rio doesn't need a pool

"Pride and politics over a pool for Rio's poor" (Jan. 16) addresses the 1,300 jobs created by the project of Gov. Anthony Garotinho to build a $7 million swimming pool. This high-cost, highly visible venture shows Mr. Garotinho's commitment to the poor. It is tempting to congratulate him for his innovative plan to revitalize an impoverished area of the city, but his constituents should demand a more sustainable effort - a plan focused on education and technology.

Sustainable-development committees have determined that Brazil should focus on distributing computer technology. This industry has the potential to create thousands of jobs, while increasing productivity and expanding markets for existing businesses. Unfortunately, it is the tourist industry that is attracting government funds.

It is a shame politicians resort to short-term relief projects. Garotinho has created some jobs and a sense of pride in a city that needs both, but he hasn't offered a sustainable path to development.

Sarah Moore
Douglas, Wyo.

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