As we approach Valentines Day, and as countless couples prepare to celebrate anniversaries or get engaged, no doubt, diamonds are on the mind of many. Before you purchase a diamond, however, be sure to educate yourself on how diamonds may be linked to human rights abuses in some areas of the world.
In Sierra Leone, a country in west Africa, for example, an armed group called the Revolutionary United Front has terrorized the local population for the past decade. Theyve killed, raped and abducted over the diamonds mined in that country - and their trademark is cutting of the limbs and body parts of men, women, children and even babies. The sale of these blood or conflict diamonds funds their reign of terror with hundreds of millions of dollars each year. And while Im not trying to play the Al Quaeda card, there are claims that there may even be a link to this group.
Ineffective regulations allow these blood diamonds to enter the world market. Since America purchases 65% of the worlds diamonds, we must bring it upon ourselves to change the diamond industry. Heres what we can do:
(1) Ask your jeweler about the Fifth C - Conflict. Ask them if they have a policy in place to prevent selling conflict diamonds, and if so, what is the policy and is it in writing? Has the company informed its suppliers that it requires a warranty showing that the diamond is conflict free? If so, request to see a sample of a letter written to a supplier and a sample of a warranty provided by a supplier on an invoice. And finally, is the jeweler keeping records of the warranties and having these records verified as part of its financial auditing process?
The diamond industry has set up a system of self-regulation and its our job to ensure that they are following up on their promises. Under the self-regulation you are entitled to certification through the system of warranties, so be sure to ask.
(2) Tell our members of Congress to support legislation that bans the sale of conflict diamonds and takes a proactive role in monitoring the diamond industry.
Not all diamonds are conflict diamonds. As Amnesty International points out
(www.amnestyusa.org), boycotting diamonds altogether isnt the answer, as there are countries in which there are no human rights abuses that depend on the sale of diamonds for their economies. But the more we influence the diamond industry to live up to their promises, and the more we encourage action on the U.S. governments part, the more soundly we can all sleep knowing that were doing our part.
Joan ONeill TC
Send prisoners to Iraq
Since this war we‘re involved in is costing us taxpayers billions and billions, depleting designated funds for our own citizens, I am suggesting that instead of using our National Guard overseas and contemplating the draft, we should look into our past WWII precedent which was a “non-pronounced project.“ This means getting volunteers from our penal system who are not hardened criminals but lawbreakers with short sentences.
This could serve two purposes: Unburden the overcrowded jails and prisons while giving those individuals a chance to rehabilitate their character into one that can fit into society as a solid citizen by serving their country. As long as we‘re going to feed them, house them, educate them and medically care for them, prisoners might as well earn those benefits as we have to.
John Sanchez, retired vet TC
A Super Bowl
Do you ever bother to research anything you write or do you simply content yourself with tossing out random thoughts that flash through your head be they factual or not? Your article on the Super Bowl (1/27) was a mess of misinformation.
Last years Super Bowl was among the most exciting in history, decided by a mere three points when a Tom Brady pass set up an Adam Vinitieri 41 yard field goal with four seconds remaining in the game. Two years earlier, Vinitieri had defeated the Rams also with a walk off field goal. Last years stunning victory came after the lead had changed multiple times and a combined 37 points had been scored in the fourth quarter alone, the most ever in one quarter of a Super Bowl. This was New Englands second Super Bowl in three years. One more and they join an elite group of three-time winners. No team has won more. Too bad that you were too hung up on Janet Jackson to remember (or even watch) the game itself.
As for players not being athletes and averaging only five minutes a game -- those inane comments hardly bear comment they are so totally ludicrous. Maybe some specialty players move in and out of games frequently, but show me the game where the starting quarterbacks, or the starting offensive lines, or the defensive lines or the linebackers, play only five minutes. You cannot, because the statement is another of your thoughtless toss-outs.
As for the players preferring to party up to game time and not work out, I call your attention to the many players who play hurt every year. This year a severe ankle injury has Terrell Owens of the Philadelphia Eagles working out tirelessly so he can play in the big game, against medical advice. He is way ahead of his rehab schedule.
If I took the time to research this point I would be able to show you countless examples of players working overtime to prepare for their appearance in the Super Bowl. But why waste my time? Your mind, based on your imbedded prejudice against this event, is already made up.
The Patriots are trying to tie an all time team Super Bowl record and the Philadelphia Eagles are appearing for the first time in 24 years, and you really believe these teams are going to ho-hum it? You really believe that Andy Reid and Bill Belichick, two of the hardest working, toughest couches in the NFL, are going to hold beer parties instead of one or two a day workouts for their players?
Conversely, your point about the exciting playoff games leading up to this years Super Bowl is equally false, indicating that you did not watch these games. Because this year marginal teams, those with .500 records, slipped into the playoffs, teams like the Minnesota Vikings and the St. Louis Rams, there were no upsets and most of the games were fairly routine with predictable outcomes.
Clean your house instead of watching the Super Bowl? Why dont you spend the time cleaning out the cobwebs from your brain, so that your next random thought contains at least a modicum of sense.
Frank Breen Lake Leelanau
Last week‘s Region Watch item on the cessation of snow plowing for cross-country ski lots neglected to mention that snowmobilers subsidize the plowing of their own lots with a $25 trail permit as well as an annual license and registration fee, in addition to volunteers plowing their lots.