"What could possibly make these kids decide that it is OK to murder someone for a few hundred dollars?"

MOTHER'S HELPER

I read your article on Heather Opel ["Little Girl Lost," Jan. 24]. It was a very well written and informative article. I disagree that Heather should be tried as an adult. The juvenile system would be more suited to her situation and [need for] extensive rehabilitation with counseling. It sounds as though Heather has had a terrible life and her mother has deranged her. Heather has been "brainwashed" into doing anything her mother tells her. Her mother is the one who, basically, committed the murder by instructing the children what to do. Thanks for your paper and interesting articles!

Lis Jones

via e-mail

DON'T CRY FOR HEATHER

This case is not about how we should save these "children," it's about paying for your crime ["Little Girl Lost," Jan. 24]. These so-called "kids" brutally murdered a man in cold blood in his own home! THEY made the choice to participate in this murder. THEY delivered the blows. They and Barbara Opel are ALL responsible for the murder of Jerry Heimann! This whole horrific murder (and robbery) could have been avoided if any ONE of these kids had told someone. Barbara Opel did not have this "special" hold over ANY of the other kids that she supposedly had over her daughter. What could possibly make these kids decide that it is OK to murder someone for a few hundred dollars? What is wrong with our society that we can raise children like this? Are the parents responsible? Should we change the laws so that they suffer the consequences of their children's acts as well?

I'm sorry, but [Heather Opel] chose her course in life, now she has to pay the consequences! [My] 13-year-old and 6-year-old cannot even contemplate that their grandpa [Jerry Heimann] was murdered by a pack of maniac teenagers, much less understand why! There is no logical reason.

Heather should be tried as an adult. These people murdered a weak, older man in cold blood in front of his mother, THEN they left HER to die! My family is trying to pick up the pieces from this devastating event. This doesn't only involve murder; it involves check fraud, robbery, and attempted murder as well. Should I (or anyone) shed a tear for Heather Opel? I don't think so. Our society needs protection from her and her [accomplices]. Their age does not matter. [That they] are capable of doing what they did speaks volumes. These people have no conscience. They can't be cured. They need to pay for their crimes.

signed only, Jerry's daughter

WAY TO GO, WTO!

In "Bill, Phil, and the WTO" [Jan. 24], Geov Parrish wonders whether corporate giants like Microsoft and Boeing might be having second thoughts about the WTO now that a recent ruling by that body stands to cost them millions in taxes. Fair enough, but I'm less interested in what Bill Gates thinks about this ruling than what I think about it, and the main thing I think is, way to go, WTO! Big American corporations too often get away with murder, taxwise, and if a group of "unaccountable corporate lawyers in Geneva" can help to remedy this in some small way, more power to them. Since when is Parrish unhappy at the prospect of more corporate taxation? Perhaps he wants to claim that the real issue isn't the money but the "intolerable infringement on local jurisdictions' ability to make and enforce their own laws," to which I can only reply: Tell it to a cheering crowd of states' rights Republicans. Just maybe (pace Jesse Helms' tirades against the U.N.) good does sometimes come at the hands of meddling international bodies. I still can't say I trust the WTO (tear gas makes for a bad first impression), but I am finding it harder to maintain the position that it exists solely to further the ends of some monolithic entity called "the corporations." C'mon, Geov—a bunch of European lawyers just made Boeing lose $650 million in "corporate welfare." Take a minute to gloat.

Bill McNeill

Seattle

MARIA'S MONEY

You've got to be kidding. Maria Cantwell spent $12.2 million to win her Senate seat, and the BIG NEWS is that she received $50,000 from individuals who are lobbyists, each contributing a maximum of $1,000? ["Maria's Debts," Jan. 24.] That's less than the amount of a rounding error for her campaign costs. Fifty thousand makes Maria Cantwell the top recipient of lobbyist donations? If that's true, this must be the biggest lobbyist "recession" of our generation. Sounds like fuzzy math.

Was Enron Corporation lobbyist Marc F. Racicot (now Republican National Committee Chairman) one of those contributors to Maria Cantwell? Doubt it. 'Nuf said.

Mark Hoge

Seattle

"MYTH" IS MISLEADING

I have been confused by assertions that the cholesterol we eat has no bearing on our blood cholesterol levels ["What You 'Know' Could Hurt You," Jan. 24]. Your article mentioned quackwatch.com (a Web site that debunks misinformation). I e-mailed Stephen Barrett, M.D., who operates quackwatch.com. He responded: "Whether dietary cholesterol has an effect depends on how much is consumed. For most people it has little effect because the body makes more than they eat anyway. This is sometimes simplified by saying that dietary cholesterol has no effect on blood cholesterol. That is not quite true. The primary dietary consideration is the amount and type of fat consumed. The main culprit is saturated fat. Too much saturated fat or total fat raises blood cholesterol levels."

I then contacted the author of your article, Roger Downey. He replied that while the connection between dietary and blood cholesterol is ambiguous, he should have made it clear that the health myth he was talking about was "dietary LDL causes high serum LDL"; [he wasn't saying] high fat diets are not deleterious to health. That doesn't matter. The public is going to interpret that "myth" to mean that they can eat all the meat, cheese, eggs, and butter they want, because "what you eat doesn't raise your blood cholesterol." Much of the saturated fat we eat comes from items that also contain cholesterol. You're splitting hairs by claiming there is no connection. It looks like a connection to me.

Lisa McGlashan

Seattle

A HAPPY ACCIDENT

Gavin Borchert's review of Madama Butterfly ["Newborn Butterfly," Jan. 17] was a first class journalistic tour de force, and his perceptions and analysis of the acoustical properties of the Mercer Arena were "spot on." The sound in the Arena, in my estimation, is astonishingly beautiful, superior to the old Opera House, and far superior to the acoustics of Benaroya Hall. Our new symphony hall is, without a doubt, a world-class FACILITY, but the acoustics in the main concert hall seem to be completely lacking in resonance no matter where I have been seated. I sat 26 rows back from the stage on the main floor for the recent Renee Fleming recital. It was nearly impossible to hear her unless she was singing at least forte.The hollow panels in the walls and the hollow floor ensure that listeners only hear notes and not music. The acoustical "engineers" positively outsmarted themselves concocting Benaroya Hall. The Arena is a most "happy accident" indeed. [It's] "just a box," folks, but it is truly integral to the creation called "music." A great renaissance for a former hockey stadium!

Peter Hurd

Port Townsend

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