Thank you for your clear and reflective article on the situation in Iraq ("US options: more troops or more help," Aug. 21). I sincerely hope that the US will either increase the number of troops on the ground (to establish and maintain law and order), or join forces with experienced United Nations workers and other nations willing to participate in peacekeeping and reconstructing.
If the US still tries to go it alone, I think there is grave danger that an Iraq without the rule of law and order could quickly turn into training fields for terrorists from around the world, and the US effort to curb terrorism by invading Iraq would be a complete failure.
Dietmar M. Schlueter
Your Aug. 21 article "Tart humor get its day in court" about misses the point when it raises the banner of free speech. Every trademark issued by the Trademark Office limits free speech. You can't use a competitor's registered trademark without his permission. And "fair and balanced" is a mark registered to Fox. Trademark registration isn't handed out to anyone who asks. An application goes through a rigorous examination. In this case, it is probable that the Trademark Office originally found the mark to be "merely descriptive," and rejected it on that basis. (That is a free speech problem.) Only after "fair and balanced" becomes sufficiently well-known and widely associated with Bill O'Reilly by the public does it become protectable.
If the court finds for Al Franken, it will be on one of two grounds: First, satire is a legitimate way to use someone else's trademark without infringement, and the book could be viewed as satire; second, if there is no likelihood that the public could think that Franken's book was produced by Fox, then Fox loses. Free speech is a phony issue, raised by people who have a political ax to grind about the dispute. It is a simple trademark case, and should be decided as such.
Mark P. White
Editor's note: A federal court judge did find in favor of Al Franken last week.
I noted your Aug. 21 article, "Houston grapples with mass transit - and its ego," and its take that Houston and Harris County need and want the Metropolitan Transit Authority's congestion solution. Despite Dale Patterson, cited as an average commuter with a three-hour trip, Census data show area commuting times under 30 minutes.
Metro's latest iteration of self-preservation calls for 73 miles of light rail and would dedicate about 75 percent of 22 years' worth of tax receipts and borrowed dollars to lay track. The November vote decides only whether or not an approximate $1 billion down payment will be made. It is clear that both residential and employment growth will skip the inner city over the next few years and concentrate in widely dispersed areas.
Regarding your Aug. 21 article "How much to put that doggy in the window?": I'm surprised to note, in the story about animal shelters charging drop-off fees, that one of the most obvious objections wasn't discussed. The good people who brought in an abandoned puppy are being charged $25. How does that encourage others to bring in unwanted pets at all? Isn't it far more probable that, instead of forcing people to keep and value pets more, there will simply be a surge in the rates of road-dumping and abandonment? If this proves to be the case, then this initiative will have done a tremendous amount of harm.
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