Ask those who served: Regarding "Camilo's Retreat" by Francisco Alvarado (May 3): I served with Camilo Mejía and he had no problem being a soldier and training for war when he was collecting educational benefits. He was asked three times before leaving for overseas whether or not he objects to serving overseas. He was told to sign after he bubbled in "yes" or "no," and three times he signed and bubbled "no." There are about 124 men who served with him, and I can tell you that 123 know the real truth and not the journalistic propaganda that is being portrayed in this article. What credibility does a convicted felon and deserter of the United States military have in matters of war, and in what is moral and immoral? Try interviewing other soldiers in his unit who live, work, and raise their children in South Florida. These men are the real soldiers who were first in the sand and last to be asked, "So what was it really like?" For any further information, look at the 24 Purple Hearts and 124 Combat Infantry Badges, which Camilo Mejía was not part of, nor did he witness, because he was busy defying orders and living without fear of death at home, with the lives of nineteen-, twenty-, 21-, 34-, and 45-year-old fathers, brothers, sons, and uncles on the line. Camilo Mejía, you, sir, use America's freedom of speech to erase your cowardice. The truth of how you and others use these freedoms for your personal agenda and gain will surface eventually.
Combat 16 Romeo
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Service is above self: Regarding "Camilo's Retreat" by Francisco Alvarado (May 3): I am an ex-U.S. Army soldier who just finished serving six years and also served in combat with the 82nd Airborne Division. I do not agree with the wars that are going on in Afghanistan and Iraq, but what Mr. Mejía did is wrong to his unit and his fellow soldiers. I can understand how he felt about the war and the horrible things he saw and experienced, but he joined the military knowing that if the time came to go to war, he must go, and that going to war includes killing. I think he is a coward for abandoning his unit and especially his soldiers. Being a soldier is not an easy job physically and especially mentally; that is what separates us from the rest of the civilians.
Jose M. Valdes
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Live long and prosper: It's thanks to Artie Lange ("Not Dead Yet" by Frank Houston, May 3) that I ever thought to pick up an AC/DC CD and enjoy it. His imitation of the lead singer is spot on! I didn't go with Howard Stern to satellite radio, and do miss the gang. Artie always made me laugh ... and worry ... I still DO worry about him. I wish him all the luck in the world ... and a long, LONG life.
Sue in Philly
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"Organic" or not, they're tortured: Regarding "Having Seconds" by Lee Klein (April 19): Thanks to Lee Klein for his restaurant review, which helped to expose the lies that are fed to consumers by the food industry.
Too many people think that "organic" farms are humane. Unfortunately this is not the case. As the organic market has grown, the food industry has found new and crueler ways to incarcerate animals.
There are no food animals whose lives are not miserable. Even those farms that actually allow their animals to graze, bathe, and eat natural foods (less than two percent) perform acts of unspeakable cruelty.
Pigs in "natural" farms still have their ears mutilated, are neutered, and have their tails chopped off without any pain-killer or anaesthetic. They are still piled into trucks so crowded that drivers report being able to hear their limbs and backs break (pigs have been known to literally split open in transit).
And for the four out of ten that are not stunned properly at the slaughterhouse, there's the excruciating experience of being hung upside down, having their throats cut, and then being drowned in scalding water.
Pigs are the fourth most intelligent animal on the planet. We torture and eat them, regardless of whether they are organic, natural, or caged.
Get it Straight
Enough talking: I disagree with the article ("Baghdad West" by Calvin Godfrey, April 26). Though I don't live in the city, I don't think it is as crime-ridden as this writer and the media project it to be. I am closely associated with not only residents but several of the business owners in the area. Hence I spend a great deal of time in the city. I also work there and have never had a problem involving violence or vandalism. Although I agree that the city needs help, as all other cities do, it has earned a reputation that I feel it doesn't deserve. This writer has poor grammar and few facts (City Hall wasn't abandoned, it is being renovated because it is a historical site and it was damaged from the last storm). It is sad that no one ever cares to glorify the good in anything, but when it comes to badmouthing everyone wants to put their two cents in. People need to stop talking about it and start doing something about it.
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Miami New Times won honors in the Society of Professional Journalists' 57th annual Green Eyeshade Awards earlier this month. The contest honors excellence in journalism. Emily Witt won first place in feature writing among weekly papers for her story "Band of Outsiders" (April 13, 2006). Mariah Blake's "Jesus Redux" (February 9, 2006) took second place among weekly and monthly publications for nondeadline news reporting.