The way ahead
Even though I feel relief that was reached in the verdict of Minnesota V. Chauvin, please let’s not forget that the heart of either message of Black Lives, Blue Lives or All Lives Matter is that we must begin to respect each other and remember that we are each other’s keepers.
I hope that every time I see a police officer interact with a member of society, both parties can leave the situation and go home peacefully. Law enforcement is an honorable profession, and those who want to and answer the call to serve are fulfilling a sacred and civic duty, but we ask that when our friends who wake up every day and put on that badge, straighten that tie, kiss their life partners and kids when they walk out that door, they remember that we want you to be safe, every civilian safe and you return home.
I hope that everyone who interacts with these guys does so peacefully and calmly, and if you sense something is not right, we speak up. To members of law enforcement, if you know someone in the force is corrupt, not right and should not be there, get them out of there. I also ask that you remember that people of color are not your enemy; we are your countrymen and countrywomen.
The craziness has to end.
Edward D. Porter, Omaha
Foundation of justice
I write as a longtime Nebraska resident with roots in the state. On Monday the Darek Chauvin trial ended with closing arguments by the prosecution and defense. This case has received more than enough media attention because the incident in question resulted in the death of George Floyd.
A host of a morning network news program on Tuesday morning referred to the case as “a referendum on social justice.” That is exactly what any criminal trial, including this one, is not. A criminal trial in our system is about determining the guilt or innocence of one person based on the evidence of guilt or innocence produced at trial and deliberation on that evidence by a jury.
For it to be other than that, including a referendum on anything, subverts the process and denies a person who is presumed innocent their right to due process and the benefit of that presumption.
It is everyone’s right to disagree with a jury’s verdict based on their view of the case and their perception of justice, but it is only their view. Unless they are on the jury, their view is not relevant to the issue of a particular defendant’s guilt or innocence.
And to make that view the basis for judging the fairness of the criminal justice system, or, more importantly, to justify violent protests, is the path leading to the ultimate destruction of our system of justice.
Kerry Winterer, Jackson, Wyo.
Workers need protection
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is rising nationwide to demand that poor and low-income people are no longer pushed to the margins of society. We support workers fighting for rights everywhere, from Amazon workers fighting for a union in Bessemer, Alabama, to workers facing injustices right here in Nebraska.
Nebraska meatpacking plant workers are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 infections. We have seen plants all over the country close due to these outbreaks. By mid-March 2021, workers at meatpacking plants in Nebraska experienced over 7,100 COVID-19 cases; that’s about one in four workers! The CDC has warned that even as the vaccine rolls out, safety protocols will continue to be necessary for several months. We cannot allow our fellow Nebraskans to continue to be affected by this elevated danger. We demand the Unicameral set the following mandatory temporary standards:
Social distance is maintained within the workplace. Face masks are mandated onsite, provided to all workers, and replaced when soiled. Means for frequent handwashing are provided. Adequate airflow maintained in facilities. Surfaces regularly disinfected. All workers screened daily.
Also: Workers must be notified when someone tests positive for COVID-19 through contact tracing. Exposed workers must be allowed to get tested on work time. Workers who test positive must be allowed to quarantine with paid sick leave. Track and report all deaths and positive cases weekly to state labor and health agencies. Communication is provided in languages spoken by the workers. Enforcement of these standards.
Call your senators and tell them that you support safe working conditions for Nebraska meatpacking plant workers. Everyone has the right to dignified jobs, and everybody has the right to live.
Angela Montalvo, Ogallala
Carbon pricing needed
The World-Herald is doing a great job of helping people understand the carbon market. I appreciate the article about Secretary Vilsack and his intention of paying farmers to measure and sequester carbon, “Vilsack explores making carbon bank for farmers.” Same for the article about farmers’ growing interest in selling carbon offsets to companies who need to lower their carbon footprint, “Interest in New Carbon Market Grows.”
Besides measuring carbon sequestered, it is also necessary to measure the carbon that is emitted, and to put a price on it. Many carbon pricing bills charge emitters $15 per metric ton of CO2 the first year. Carbon pricing is essential in the mix of climate policies. Without it, models show that we cannot keep the rise in Earth’s temperature under two degrees.
Carbon pricing means charging fossil fuel users for the carbon they emit. If all the players who burn fossil fuels are following the same rules — as they would with a federal carbon pricing policy — entities such as OPPD, which voluntarily set a goal of net zero carbon, would enjoy economies of scale in things like battery storage, a smart grid, and other parts of the emerging green energy sector.
A robust carbon market will help farmers. As utilities like OPPD, and other big users of fossil fuels, move toward net zero carbon, they will need a way to pay for offsets, and agricultural sequestration is a good way to do it.
Here is a simple way to think about the carbon market: measure carbon going out into the atmosphere, and going back into the Earth. Then put a price on it.
Frances Mendenhall, Omaha